Timothy Carter wants to help some creatures of the night, endangered Indiana bats.
"I have always been fascinated with the marvel that is the bat," said Carter, an assistant biology professor at Ball State.
Working with Unimin Corporation's Tamms/Elco plant in southern Illinois since 1998, Carter has helped turn abandoned mines into habitats for hibernating bats. For those efforts, he was named the 2006 Community Partner of the Year by the Wildlife Habitat Council.
Carter's work has included taking visitors to the mines, developing educational activities, and working with the media, including the Chicago Tribune and Smithsonian magazine.
Much of Carter's research was undertaken while he was at Southern Illinois University, where he received his doctorate in 2003. At Ball State, Carter has used his work in the Unimin mines as a resource for his students, including taking them on field trips to southern Illinois to collect data and to observe the hibernating bats. Named for the state where they were discovered, Indiana bats actually range from Iowa and Vermont in the north to Arkansas and Tennessee/North Carolina in the south.
With assistance from Ball State students, Carter's research continues when the bats are awake, examining how nearby human populations are impacting the bats when they come out of hibernation and travel to local forests. To study the species' well-being, the bats are caught and tagged with radio transmitters during the summer.
Indiana bats have been listed as an endangered species since 1967. Carter hopes someday his efforts will help them no longer need federal protection.