After completing a Bachelor of Environmental Science and honours at the Australian Catholic University, PhD student Leroy Gonsalves developed a love and fascination for a micro-sized creature of the night; bats.
Leory is working with very small bats, most of them weighing about 4 grams –less than a 10 cent piece - and can fit in a matchbox. Leroy is studying the diet of microbats that live on the Central Coast for a project funded by the NSW Environmental Trust.
His study area in Empire Bay has large areas of saltmarsh, which can support huge numbers of mosquitoes at different times of the year. Apart from nuisance biting, these particular mosquitoes have the potential to spread diseases such as Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses, which can cause rashes, fever and rheumatic pains.
Leroy’s research is closely examining the movements of these bats in association with the mosquito fauna of the area, and investigating bat diets to determine just how important mosquitoes are to their survival.
Leroy currently works as at the Forest Science Centre, NSW Department of Primary Industries.