“Can we protect island flying foxes?” Science perspective published today

Published today in Science is a perspective on the current fate of flying foxes on islands that Christian Vincenot, Vincent Florens, and I put together.
Island flying foxes were recognized as a group of conservation concern over 30 years ago when intense hunting and commercial trading of species on Pacific islands precipitated the extinction of at least one species (the endemic Guam flying fox) and led to dramatic declines in others.  This resulted, in 1989, in all species of Pteropus and Acerodon (flying foxes) being included on CITES (Convention on Trade in Endangered Species) appendices that restrict or regulate international trade. 30 years later, flying fox populations on islands are still declining because of hunting and habitat loss, and new issues, notably conflict between bats and fruit growers over crops have arisen. As the Old World Co-Chair of the Bat Specialist Group of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission, I have been directly involved in efforts to resolve the conflict in Mauritius. The conflict has led the government of Mauritius to implement two mass culls of the species in two years (see article).

Island flying foxes are hunted and persecuted throughout their range. Blyth’s flying fox killed by villagers in the Andaman islands. Photo Rohit Charavatry

In 2016, Chris, Vince and myself contributed to a special symposium on the Conservation of Island Vertebrates at the 2nd International Conference of Island Evolution, Ecology and Conservation. We were all presenting on issues facing flying foxes on islands and realized it was time to see where we stood 30 years on. As we suspected, tragically the status of flying foxes on islands has worsened and urgent conservation action is needed.
Some great press coverage from
Deutschland Funk Radio: on the show “Forschung Aktuell”. Audio here (in German)

 

Advertisements

Ain’s paper on reproductive phenology online in Biotropica

Ain’s wonderful paper entitled “Resource availability and roosting ecology shape reproductive phenology of rain forest insectivorous bats” is available online in Biotropica DOI: 10.1111/btp.12430 (or you can request through my Researchgate page).

Ain spent 20 months tracking reproductive activity in 11 species of female bats in a Malaysian rainforest, and is the first study to simultaneously track both available insect biomass and local weather. The findings show different reproductive patterns in cave- vs. forest-roosting bats, which we suggest may be attributed to the cost of commuting.

Ain hard at work in Malaysia, assessing reproductive status of cave- (bottom left) and forest-roosting (bottom right, top center) bats.

Nurul‐Ain Elias, Hashim Rosli, and Tigga Kingston. “Resource availability and roosting ecology shape reproductive phenology of rain forest insectivorous bats.” Biotropica (2017). DOI: 10.1111/btp.12430

BCI Research Scholarships for Global Bat Conservation Priorities Awarded to Ben and Iroro

Well done indeed to Ben and Iroro — recipients of 2016 Student Research Scholarships from Bat Conservation International. Only 17 awards were granted, so they did a great job.

Iroro’s project is entitled “Ecological predictors of forest interior insectivorous bat habitat and conservation of the vulnerable Hipposideros curtus”  and she received special recognition as a “Women in Conservation Science Award Recipient”. Iroro is out in the field even as we speak.

Ben’s project “Conservation assessment of Rousettus aegyptiacus: hunting effects and ecosystem services in southern Nigeria” is off to a flying start — he heads to the field this summer.

The Kingston lab would like to express its sincere thanks to Bat Conservation International for their support, and congratulations to all this year’s recipients — some great work going on!

Congratulations to Marina — Mobile acoustic transect study published in J. Arid Environments

Before Marina started working on spatial bias in species distribution models and the SEABCRU database, she spent a couple of summers exploring the efficacy of driven transects in detecting bats in the low bat-density habitats around Lubbock. In our arid, largely treeless, waterless plain (the study was conducted during a 4-yr drought), stationary bat detectors remain silent, and pretty much the only way to detect bat activity is by extending the spatial extent of sampling by driving. This has implications for others surveying and monitoring bats in arid environments, and her findings are out this week in the J. Arid Environments. This is open access until December 9th.

Marina Fisher-Phelps, Dylan Schwilk and Tigga Kingston. (2017). Mobile acoustic transects detect more bat activity than stationary acoustic point counts in an urban-rural landscape matrix. Journal of Arid Environments 136: 38-44. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2016.10.005

Treeless, waterless plain, where turbines abound

Treeless, waterless plain, where turbines abound. Driven transects work better than stationary points for  detecting the little bat activity.

Kendra’s first dissertation pub in September’s Biological Conservation

The first publication from Kendra’s dissertation came out online in July, but it is out this month in the September issue of Biological Conservation.

Phelps, K., Jose, R., Labonite, M., & Kingston, T. (2016). Correlates of cave-roosting bat diversity as an effective tool to identify priority caves. Biological Conservation, 201, 201-209.

She and her team surveyed no less than 60 caves on Bohol Island, Philippines — a lot of hard work. Here are the highlights:

  • Correlates of cave bat diversity were used to develop cave – prioritization schemes.
  • Surface-level disturbance and cave complexity correlated with bat diversity.
  • Prioritization schemes selected caves with greater richness than random selection.
  • Open-source data and/or rapid cave surveys can prioritize caves for conservation.

 

Kingston Lab at IBRC 2016

Several of the lab were able to make it to the 17th International Bat Research Conference in South Africa at the end of July/August. It was a great meeting. Iroro presented on her first full field season with an oral paper “Preliminary data on the distribution of insectivorous forest bats along elevational gradients in the Nigerian/Cameroon mountains”, and Kendra summarized her recent work “Correlates of cave-roosting bat diversity as an effective tool to identify priority caves”. Tigga gave a Plenary talk “Perish or persist? The ecology of vulnerability in Southeast Asia’s modified landscapes”

Tigga and Iroro then headed to the 5-day Bat Conservation Africa Workshop for young African researchers that Iroro had organized. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet the young talent of the continent, and share experiences. Iroro did a great job pulling it all together!

Congratulations Dr Phelps!

Kendra successfully defended last Wednesday — yay! Her dissertation title is “Response of Cave-roosting Bats to Complex Environmental Gradients: an Assessment across Assemblage-, Species- and Population-levels”. The first chapter is in revision for Biological Conservation, which is great. Thanks to her committee members Nancy McIntyre, Bill Resetarits, Jodi Sedlock, Rich Strauss for their service and support of Kendra. Thanks also to Richard Stevens for acting as Dean’s Rep.