Interests and doctoral research
Broadly speaking, I am interested in studying bat community and landscape ecology for theory and application in conservation of bat species and their habitat. For my doctoral work, I am investigating the drivers of bat species richness and assemblage structure along elevational gradients. Whereas, a global model of bat species richness along elevational gradients was published in 2007, the bat fauna and indeed the richness pattern and drivers of such patterns on many mountains remain undocumented – including those in southeastern Nigeria. Understanding the pattern of bat species richness provides an initial step towards investigating the ecomorphological structure of bat assemblages along elevational gradients. Furthermore, I am focusing on how bat assemblages change along the gradient and the drivers of such changes.
My doctoral field research is in two protected areas Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary and Cross River National Park situated in southeastern Nigeria, which rise to 1300 m and 1750 m respectively. These are Fold Mountains that form part of the Cameroon Volcanic Line and hold Nigeria’s last primary forest. There are numerous peaks on these mountains, which are often forested from lowland to peak, providing opportunities for asking many interesting questions about bat assemblages. Furthermore, caves and cave-like habitats in addition to old growth forest suggest that the area could be important for bat conservation – this is already coming across in some of the interesting bat captures at these sites
How I got into bat research
Although I have a long-standing interest in nature, my current interest in bats started in 2010 when I attended the Tropical Biology Association (TBA) field course in Kibale National Park, Uganda. During the course, I listened to an interesting talk on a bat pollination network in a West African rainforest – I was fascinated that curious scientists ventured into forests studying “enigmatic” animals, staying up all night, sometimes high up in the forest canopy, and this was all happening in my backyard! I wanted that experience! I was sold on bat research. Upon returning home to Nigeria, I didn’t waste time in visiting the large colony of Straw-colored fruit bats in Benin City. I took this interest forward by study bat diversity across three landscapes in southern Nigeria for a Masters thesis at the University of Benin, Benin City. My other experience with studying bats include conducting walked transect surveys for a Masters thesis at the University of Leeds to investigate the use of linear features like hedgerows by bats in agricultural landscapes.