I describe research in my lab as “conservation ecology”, and my aim is that our efforts make contributions to both the conservation of the world’s imperiled bat species (primarily in the Old World tropics) and the advancement of ecological knowledge. So although most of our research has conservation applications, it is rooted in fundamental ecological and evolutionary principles.
Research in my lab centers on the study of bat diversity (species discovery, distributions), the processes that maintain diversity in intact ecosystems (community ecology), and that influence species loss or persistence in the face of human disturbance (conservation ecology). Our work focuses primarily on the insectivorous bats of the Old World tropics (Southeast Asia and Africa); species-rich groups that occur as highly diverse assemblages in the regions’ threatened rainforests and karst systems. The lab takes an integrative approach that combines studies of functional, reproductive, landscape, community, and microbial ecology to understand community assembly and disassembly in response to anthropogenic changes to habitat.
I am committed to building scientific capacity in the tropical bat hotspots of the Old World and established and lead a regional network of bat researchers in Southeast Asia (Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Union) and serve as the co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Bat Specialist Group with responsibility for the Old World. I am one of the founding leaders of the Global Union of Bat Diversity Networks. Human behavior is central to diversity conservation, and more recently my interests have expanded to integrate social and biological components of human-bat interactions that threaten species survival, notably flying fox hunting in SE Asia and West Africa and conflict over fruit crops.