New paper out: "Effects of lunar phase and temperature on bat activity and species richness at varying altitudes in the Kunene Region, Namibia"
"Effects of lunar phase and temperature on bat activity and species richness at varying altitudes in the Kunene Region, Namibia" was published as an early view article last month in African Journal of Ecology, which I coauthored with Lina Mushabati, Seth Eiseb, and Petr Benda. Fieldwork for this project was conducted for Lina's Master's thesis at the University of Namibia. Feel free to email me if you need assistance accessing the paper.
Abstract: Bat activity and species richness patterns are often used to assess bat population trends. Understanding how environmental conditions affect bat activity is thus important for bat conservation, but understudied across much of Africa. To address this information gap, we examined the effects of environmental factors (i.e. lunar phase and ambient temperature) on bat activity and species richness in the northern Namib Desert, Namibia. From May 2016 to March 2017, we deployed long-term acoustic detectors at three locations of varying altitudes to record bat activity and captured bats to confirm species identities once per month. In total, we recorded 5865 passes from six bat families, with Vespertilionidae and Molossidae occurring at all sites. Lunar phase did not significantly affect activity on full moon versus new moon nights. Bat activity generally peaked at all sites in the early evenings independent of lunar phase, suggesting that foraging just after sunset may be adaptive. Ambient temperature had a negative effect on bat activity at all sites and bats were not active when temperatures were >35°C or ≤11°C, but bat activity peaked during the summer months. Despite differences in temperatures across sites, community composition was not related to altitude. Long-term monitoring of desert bat activity and species richness is important not only for addressing large knowledge gaps about the population trends and behaviours of these Namibian species and about bats in arid landscapes more generally, but also for informing local bat conservation efforts across a range of environmental conditions.
Return to the field!
Manahoana from Madagascar! I am in the field with the Brook Lab and collaborators from the University of Antananarivo sampling Madagascar's three fruit bats for viruses shed in feces, urine, saliva, and blood as part of a longitudinal study. Before I depart in about a month, we will also be returning to the Manombo Special Reserve in southeastern Madagascar—where we were just scouting—to sample bats (insectivorous species too!) in the surrounding region as part of a large collaborative One Health project. It has been wonderful to be out exploring a new study system with Ekipa Fanihy (Malagasy for "Team Fruit Bat")!
I recorded a talk for this year's virtual International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB) meeting entitled "Conservation of megaherbivores modulates bat diversity in the world's oldest desert" as part of the "GS15: Ecological cascades and knock-on impacts" session. My presentation is available on-demand on the meeting's website/program for several weeks. A live Q&A session will occur on Thursday, December 16th from 6:00-7:00am Eastern Time on the meeting's website although questions/comments can be emailed to me at any time. The ICCB 2021 program can be found here.
Upcoming talk: Society for Conservation Biology Emerging Issues in Conservation Seminar Series
I will be giving a talk on my recent Conservation Biology paper "Indirect effects of African megaherbivore conservation on bat diversity in the world's oldest desert" at this week's Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) Emerging Issues in Conservation Seminar series. My presentation will be live-streamed on Zoom on Wednesday, September 1st from 17:00–18:00 GMT. Please register for the live presentation here. The presentation will also be available to view at a later date on the society's Vimeo channel here.
I am very excited to announce that I will be starting a postdoctoral position this September in the Department of Ecology & Evolution at the University of Chicago under Dr. Cara Brook's supervision. In this position, I am aiming to advance our knowledge of the population and community ecology of Malagasy bats and delve into their disease ecology. I will working remotely for the most part in Knoxville, Tennessee, but anticipate conducting lab work associated with molecular dietary analysis in Chicago and plan to spend some time in the field in Madagascar. Stay tuned for more updates on this project!