Browsing by Subject "CHIROPTERA"

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  • Kemp, James; López-Baucells, Adrià; Rocha, Ricardo; Wangensteen, Owen S.; Andriatafika, Zo Emmanuel; Nair, Abhilash; Cabeza, Mar (2019)
    The conversion of natural habitats to agriculture is one of the main drivers of biotic change. Madagascar is no exception and land-use change, mostly driven by slash-and-burn agriculture, is impacting the island's exceptional biodiversity. Although most species are negatively affected by agricultural expansion, some, such as synanthropic bats, are capable of exploring newly available resources and benefit from man-made agricultural ecosystems. As bats are known predators of agricultural pests it seems possible that Malagasy bats may be preferentially foraging within agricultural areas and therefore provide important pest suppression services. To investigate the potential role of bats as pest suppressors, we conducted acoustic surveys of insectivorous bats in and around Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar, during November and December 2015. We surveyed five landcover types: irrigated rice, hillside rice, secondary vegetation, forest fragment and continuous forest. 9569 bat passes from a regional assemblage of 19 species were recorded. In parallel, we collected faeces from the six most common bat species to detect insect pest species in their diet using DNA metabarcoding. Total bat activity was higher over rice fields when compared to forest and bats belonging to the open space and edge space sonotypes were the most benefited by the conversion of forest to hillside and irrigated rice. Two economically important rice pests were detected in the faecal samples collected - the paddy swarming armyworm Spodoptera mauritia was detected in Mops leucogaster samples while the grass webworm Herpetogramma licarsisalis was detected from Mormopterus jugularis and Miniopterus majori samples. Other crops pests detected included the sugarcane cicada Yanga guttulata, the macadamia nut-borer Thaumatotibia batrachopa and the sober tabby Ericeia inangulata (a pest of citrus fruits). Samples from all bat species also contained reads from important insect disease vectors. In light of our results we argue that Malagasy insectivorous bats have the potential to suppress agricultural pests. It is important to retain and maximise Malagasy bat populations as they may contribute to higher agricultural yields and promote sustainable livelihoods.
  • Meramo, Katarina; Ovaskainen, Otso; Bernard, Enrico; Rodrigues Silva, Carina; Laine, Veronika; Lilley, Thomas M. (2022)
    For prioritizing conservation actions, it is vital to understand how ecologically diverse species respond to environmental change caused by human activity. This is particularly necessary considering that chronic human disturbance is a threat to biodiversity worldwide. Depending on how species tolerate and adapt to such disturbance, ecological integrity and ecosystem services will be more or less affected. Bats are a species-rich and functionally diverse group, with important roles in ecosystems, and are therefore recognized as a good model group for assessing the impact of environmental change. Their populations have decreased in several regions, especially in the tropics, and are threatened by increasing human disturbance. Using passive acoustic monitoring, we assessed how the species-rich aerial insectivorous bats—essential for insect suppression services—respond to chronic human disturbance in the Caatinga dry forests of Brazil, an area potentially harboring ca. 100 bat species (nearly 50% are insectivorous), but with > 60% its area composed of anthropogenic ecosystems under chronic pressure. Acoustic data for bat activity was collected at research sites with varying amounts of chronic human disturbance (e.g., livestock grazing and firewood gathering). The intensity of the disturbance is indicated by the global multi-metric CAD index (GMDI). Using Animal Sound Identifier (ASI) software, we identified 18 different bat taxon units. Using Hierarchical Modeling of Species Communities (HMSC), we found trends in the association of the disturbance gradient with species richness and bat activity: species richness was higher at sites with higher human disturbance, whereas bat activity decreased with increasing human disturbance. Additionally, we observed taxon-specific responses to human disturbance. We conclude that the effects of chronic anthropogenic disturbance on the insectivorous bat fauna in the Caatinga are not homogeneous and a species-specific approach is necessary when assessing the responses of local bats to human disturbances in tropical dry forests, and in other biomes under human pressure.
  • Blomberg, Anna S.; Vasko, Ville; Salonen, Saku; Petersons, Gunars; Lilley, Thomas M. (2021)
    Highly mobile species are considered to be the first to respond to climate change by transforming their ranges of distribution. There is evidence suggesting that Pipistrellus nathusii, a species capable of long-distance migration, is expanding both its reproduction and overwintering ranges to the North. We recorded the echolocation calls of bats at 16 sites in South-Western Finland on two consecutive winters, and detected calls of P. nathusii at one of the sites throughout the second winter. To our knowledge, this is the northernmost record of an overwintering P. nathusii, and contributes to evidence that the species is already responding to climate change.
  • Lilley, Thomas M.; Sävilammi, Tiina; Ossa, Gonzalo; Blomberg, Anna S.; Vasemägi, Anti; Yung, Veronica; Vendrami, David L. J.; Johnson, Joseph S. (2020)
    Despite its peculiar distribution, the biology of the southernmost bat species in the world, the Chilean myotis (Myotis chiloensis), has garnered little attention so far. The species has a north-south distribution of c. 2800 km, mostly on the eastern side of the Andes mountain range. Use of extended torpor occurs in the southernmost portion of the range, putting the species at risk of bat white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease responsible for massive population declines in North American bats. Here, we examined how geographic distance and topology would be reflected in the population structure of M. chiloensis along the majority of its range using a double digestion RAD-seq method. We sampled 66 individuals across the species range and discovered pronounced isolation-by-distance. Furthermore, and surprisingly, we found higher degrees of heterozygosity in the southernmost populations compared to the north. A coalescence analysis revealed that our populations may still not have reached secondary contact after the Last Glacial Maximum. As for the potential spread of pathogens, such as the fungus causing WNS, connectivity among populations was noticeably low, especially between the southern hibernatory populations in the Magallanes and Tierra del Fuego, and more northerly populations. This suggests the probability of geographic spread of the disease from the north through bat-to-bat contact to susceptible populations is low. The study presents a rare case of defined population structure in a bat species and warrants further research on the underlying factors contributing to this. See the graphical abstract here.