Ratio introduced: The Secret Life of Bats

We would like to thank Ratio for organizing the event “The Secret Life of Bats” on 28th January, as well as Heliana Dundarova, who introduced these animals in such a lighthearted and interesting manner! 

Bats are one of the most interesting groups of mammals with their incredible ability to fly perhaps even better than a large portion of birds, and navigate using echolocation even in complete darkness. At the moment bats are having their winter sleep, but that doesn’t stop us from gathering for a drink after dark, in order to understand a bit more about them. 

But except for their interesting behaviour, bats gather people’s attention for their contribution to life on Earth. Thanks to them chocolate and tequila are widely available, and even if we don’t consume either one of these things, there’s no way we can’t admit their important role as natural pest control against insects harmful for humans. 

Assoc. Proff. Dr. Heliana Dundarova works in the departament “Ecosystem studies, ecological risk and conservation biology” in the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (IBER – BAS). 

She has a Bachelor degree in Biology from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. Her Masters degree in Zoology is obtained from Charles University in Prague. She has worked for her Ph.D in the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (IBER – BAS) on the topic “Molecular phylogeny of the morpho-group: Myotis mystacinus (ChiropteraVespertilionidae) on the Balkan peninsula”. 

She has been studying the order Chiroptera for 10 years, and has been participating actively in the winter monitoring of bat colonies and the Czеch Republic and Slovakia during her Masters degree. In 2012 she participated in the mapping of bat habitats for NATURA 2000, as an expert in Bulgaria. 

During her Masters degree and her Ph.D, she studied the phylogeny and phylogeography of various bat species in the Palaearctic. She acquired skills for determining twin species by applying molecular-genetic methods. 

From 2015 until now, she participates in studying zoonotic diseases in bats, by taking and analyzing blood samples. From 2018 to 2019 she was a supervisor of a project for the protection of underground habitats and cave-loving bats in Kyrgyzstan. She took part in various cave expeditions in the Balkans, West, Central and Southeast Asia. Since 2019, she has been a part of the project LIFE Under One Roof as a bat expert.