Fall 2014 began with two new additions to the lab. Macy Madden joins us from Canisius College in New York, and Iroro Tanshi from the University of Benin, Nigeria. Both are enrolled in the PhD program and have research interests in Africa (South Africa, and Nigeria respectively), so it will be great to expand our collective knowledge of Old World bat conservation issues as their projects progress. We wish them a warm welcome (GUNS UP!).
Well done to Joe in securing a travel grant to go toward the cost of attending the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation meeting in Cairns this month. He will be giving a talk entitled “ROOSTING AND TROPHIC ENSEMBLES OF BATS RESPOND DIFFERENTLY TO COFFEE AGRICULTURAL INTENSIFICATION IN SOUTHEAST ASIA”. We look forward to hearing more about the meeting, as the only representative from the lab going.
Kendra and Maria attended the 94th American Society of Mammalogist meeting earlier this month in Oklahoma City, OK. Kendra presented findings from her dissertation research regarding drivers of cave bat diversity and how those drivers can be used in making conservation decisions. The presentation was titled ” Anthropogenic and Environmental Factors Influencing Cave Bat Diversity in the Philippines: Implications for Conservation Agendas” and was co-authored with her collaborators, Dr. Marina Labonite and Reizl Jose, in the Philippines. It was received well and sparked some interesting conversations about conserving cave bats globally and developing criteria to identify priority caves to conserve cave bat populations. Kendra’s talk was preceded by Maria’s entitled “Roost Specialization Increases Extinction Risk in Bats” (with Gloriana Chaverri). The two papers were a great fit, as Maria’s analysis highlights the vulnerability of cave bats to disturbance.
Last month I had an excellent trip to Kenya to visit with Dr Paul Webala at Karatina University, which resulted in a Letter of Intent between Texas Tech and Karatina that we hope will facilitate future collaboration and student exchange between our institutes. We then went off to western Kenya in pursuit of bats, starting with the most easterly section of of Africa’s tropical rainforest, preserved in Kakamega Forest. It was beautiful, and we caught some super bats ….
We then started heading towards the Lake Victoria area, but stopped on en route at an Eidolon roost that Beryl will be monitoring as part of a continent-wide initiative, and building on Paul’s work on colonies in this area that was supported for several years by Rufford.
We stayed at the Impala Sanctuary just outside Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria, where we had a highly productive time catching and recording edge/gap bats.
We had enough time for a trip to one of the fishing villages on the Lake’s shores — very exciting for me as I teach about the catastrophic biodiversity collapse precipitated by the introduction of the Nile perch and Tilapia in both my Ecology and Conservation Biology classes.
I had a wonderful time and would like to thank Paul for being such an awesome host, and was very excited to work with Beryl, Mike and Simon (great bat futures ahead of you all). Thanks to Texas Tech (Department of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, and the Vice President for Research’s Office) for funding the trip. I’m sure great things will come of it.
A very well done to Joe in being awarded a Texas Tech University Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship. These are brand new fellowships that provide outstanding students full support (so no teaching!) for the final 12 months of their dissertation.
A big thanks to the Graduate School for this new initiative too!
We had a great time last week when Dr Nathan Nieto from Northern Arizona University visited the department at Tech. Kendra invited him as we plan to work with him on the bat ectoparasite collection she made during her research on the response of cave bats to disturbance in the Philippines.
Nate’s research focuses on the emergence of infectious diseases from (primarily) wildlife reservoirs, and he gave a super talk that illustrates integrative approaches (from vertebrate reservoir communities to the molecular phylogeny of the pathogens) entitled “Sylvatic maintenance of endemic disease: pathogen evolution through a host community filter”.
Sadly we will lose Maria at the end of this semester as she takes up her new position as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Mammalogy in the Biology Department of State University of New York at Oswego. A super achievement and we wish her every success, although she will be greatly missed!
We had a pot-luck when we first heard (feast image below), but now everything is signed we can share the news.