Dr. Smarsh’s doctoral dissertation, at the biology department of Texas A&M University, focused on the behavioral significance of singing in an African species of false vampire bat. After setting up a field site in Tanzania, learning Swahili, and training a team of Tanzanians, her research involved tracking bats with VHF telemetry, recording songs of individuals, and conducting acoustic playback experiments to determine the relationship between foraging territories and singing behavior.
At Tel Aviv University, Dr. Smarsh will continue studying bat acoustic and spatial behavior with Dr. Yossi Yovel, using novel GPS and microphone tagging technology to track Tadarida teniotis while studying their dynamic movements and vocal emissions. The study will facilitate understanding of how small, fast-flying, nocturnal animals use social information while foraging, while also collecting valuable data for species conservation. Bats are integral to ecosystem health and benefit agricultural systems through pest control. Dr. Smarsh hopes her research will provide key information on bat movement ecology and behavior necessary to help determine how populations respond to environmental changes, such as disease, pollutants, hunting, and decimated food sources.