Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Bats wake up and smell the coffee

Date: August 19, 2015

Source: University of Leeds

Summary: Intensive agriculture is taking a toll on bats in the Western Ghats of India, one of the world's most biodiverse regions, but shade-grown coffee, remnant rainforest patches and riverine vegetation strips may help struggling species hang on, researchers have found.

A team from the University of Leeds, UK, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore and Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore, surveyed bats in the southern Western Ghats, in the first detailed study of the impact of rainforest fragmentation and plantations on bats.

Professor John Altringham, of the University of Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences, said they found several species were having difficulty in the transformed landscape -- but also found hopeful signs that remaining forest fragments and wildlife-friendly agriculture could offer a lifeline.

Professor Altringham said: "The Western Ghats region is the eighth most biodiverse place in the world but has the highest human population of any of the biodiversity hotspots.

"Historical land use change and development has left only 6% of the original habitat in the region. By looking at bats--which are excellent bioindicators--we are able to learn not only what these changes in the environment mean for bats, but also for wildlife in general."

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