UNEP/EUROBATS

Bats as indicators: a special issue of Mammalian Biology

A special issue of the Mammalian Biology Journal devoted to bats as bioindicators has been published recently with active participation of many EUROBATS Advisory Committee's members.

From the Introduction: The main aim of this issue is to enthuse interest in the scientific community regarding the potential of bats as bioindicators. We present both original studies and review papers covering some key aspects of bat natural history with respect to their potential performance in bioindication. Some of the contributions present methodological approaches to bat monitoring in order to track habitat changes or the presence of pollutants. Meyer (2015) highlights some of the main challenges posed by monitoring population- and assemblage-level changes of bats with a special focus on methodology and statistics and remarks that particularly inspeciose bat communities suchas inthe tropics, species turnover and composition, rather than species richness, should be targeted as representative variables to understand anthropogenic changes. Van der Meij et al. (2015) describe the methodology employed to implement a prototype pan-European bat indicator – which attracted great media attention – recently funded by the European Environmental Agency. Limitations and further developments of the indicator, aimed to unveil population trends on a broad geographical scale from regional trends in hibernation counts, are also discussed. Flache et al. (2015) and Rydell and Russo (2015) present novel approaches to non-invasive monitoring: the former describe the analysis of trace metal concentrations in hairs as a non-invasive and cost-effective way to study toxicity in biological communities, whereas the latter employ camera-trapping at drinking sites to record information about bat species as well as, in several cases, individual characteristics such as sex or reproductive status without catching study subjects. Korine et al. (2015) show that neither total bat activity nor species richness in desert habitats may indicate changes in water chemistry and quality, recommending the use of measuring the activity of specific species as indicators of water quality.

Several other papers look at the responses of bats to ecosystem alterations – a key property of suitable bioindicators – including changes in agricultural practices (Park, 2015), urbanization (Ancillotto and Russo, 2015), light pollution (Stone et al., 2015), heavy metals (Zukal et al., 2015), and drought events (Amorim et al., 2015). Finally a study on soprano pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in the rice paddy fields of Catalunia (Puig-Montserrat et al., 2015) shows the importance of this bat’s foraging activity to suppress infestations of rice borer moth (Chilo suppressalis), providing a good example of an important ecosystem service provided by bats.

Abstracts and content (for subscribers) are available at the link http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/16165047/80/3

 

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