Bias in Open Source Bat Data — Ecological Informatics paper out today

Marina’s first publication from her dissertation research is online today — congrats! Marina and undergraduate co-author Rebecca Wilson pulled together and cleaned a huge dataset of Southeast Asian GBIF records. Perhaps not surprisingly, Southeast Asian bat sampling effort is spatially biased, most notably by distance to protected area. However, ecology also plays a role, with bias varying among foraging groups. A particularly novel contribution to the field was examination of how bias changed through time.  The paper is OPEN ACCESS until July 5th.

Marina Fisher-Phelps, Guofeng Cao, Rebecca Wilson and Tigga Kingston. (2017) Protecting bias: Across time and ecology, open-source bat locality data are heavily biased by distance to protected area. Ecological Informatics 40: 22-34.

** NOTE the current pdf on the Ecological Informatics site is missing a table. It is present in the online version. This will be corrected soon.

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

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.

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.


Congratulations to Julie — First dissertation publication now online :-)

Julie’s first publication from her dissertation, which went into Functional Ecology, is now available in the “Accepted Article” format here

Juliana Senawi, Daniela Schmieder, Bjorn Siemers, and Tigga Kingston (2015). Beyond size- morophological predictors of bite force in a diverse insectivorous bat assemblage from Malaysia. Functional Ecology DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12447

Here is the awesome “general public” summary that Julie put together for FE:

Julie gathering data in the field (looking very serious).

Julie gathering data in the field (looking very serious).

“Would you rather be bitten by a big dog or by a small dog? Neither, of course, but if you had to choose, which one would it be? According to researchers, bite force (bite strength) increases with size in most animals, so the small dog is likely the better bet! Previous research in South and Central America indicates this relationship holds in bats too – bigger bats bite harder than smaller bats. We wanted to test whether this was the case in Asian forests, where the bat fauna is equally diverse, but dominated by very different families of bats.

So how do we measure how hard an animal bites without losing any fingers? The bats were encouraged to bite a pair of metal plates hinged at one end by a transducer, which converts the pressure of the bite to a readable output of the force. We recorded the maximum bite force and measures of size (body mass, forearm length, head width, head height and head length) of 35 insect-eating bat species captured in Krau Wildlife Reserve, Malaysia. The bats ranged in size from 3 g to 200 g and belonged to 7 families. We also measured jaw features responsible for generating bite force using museum specimens of the same species, and used these to calculate the mechanical advantage (jaw effectiveness) adjusted by the size of the species.

So, did bigger bats bite harder? The answer was yes, but the relationship between size and bite force differed among the bat families. The effectiveness of the jaw (mechanical advantage) also played a role, regardless of the size of the bat. All 35 species of bats in this study eat insects in the same forest, so they have developed strategies to avoid competition. Having a different bite force than your neighbour may be one – while some species may focus on hard crunchy prey like beetles, others may specialize on softer fare like flying termites and moths.”

Congratulations to Joe — first dissertation publication out today!

Way Canguk in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park -- a bat diversity hotspot (photo Tigga Kingston)

Way Canguk in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park — a bat diversity hotspot (photo Tigga Kingston)

Joe’s first paper from his dissertation research was published today in Acta Chiropterologica. It is a superb account of the bat diversity captured during his research in South West Sumatra and reveals the significance of the area in and around Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park as  chiropteran diversity hotspot for SE Asia. Especially useful for other researchers in Sumatra is a dichotomous key to all the bat species currently known for Sumatra, based on external features. Suprisingly little work has been done on bats on the island, we hope this paper and the key will facilitate more!

Joe Chun-Chia Huang, Elly Lestari Rustiati, Meyner Nusalawo, Ibnu Maryanto, Maharadatunkamsi, Sigit Wiantoro & Tigga Kingston.  A recent survey reveals Bukit Barisan Selatan Landscape as chiropteran diversity hotspot in Sumatra. Acta Chiropterologica, 15(2): 413-449.

If you would like a copy, email Joe or myself.