SUPPORTED PROJECTS

Surveys of microchiropteran bats in Madagascar 2000 (previously the Queen’s University of Belfast Madagascar expedition 1998)

Daniel Bennett

This project will undertake a bat research project in pristine and fragmented environments of the Masoala peninsula, Madagascar. Particular emphasis will be placed on the endemic genus Myzopodidae, which, uniquely in Madagascar, uses suction pads to cling to the inside of furled leaves of Ravenala palms. The team plan to gather high quality data allowing effective habitat conservation measures to be formulated and implemented. The team’s members will work closely with local students, scientists and conservationists, providing training and equipment where necessary, to enable the continuation of the important work initiated by this project. The expedition succeeded in characterising the calls of about 70% of the bats known from the Masoala Peninsular and 30% of the bats known to occur in Madagascar. When calls of Malagasy species have been characterised it will be possible to carry out rapid and accurate inventories on bat communities anywhere on the island, using affordable technology. The value of time expansion characterisations in conservation is considerable because they allow habitat requirements to be determined at low cost and with little effort. Future priorities should be to characterise the acoustics of the unknown species of Malagasy bats and train local biologists in the use of time expansion and heterodyne ultrasonic detectors and analytical techniques.

SURVEYS OF MICROCHIROPTERAN BATS IN MADAGASCAR 2000: This project will follow-up the work of the Queen’s University Belfast Madagascar Bat Project 1999. The previous work identified and characterised the echolocation calls of many microchiropteran bats in the Masoala peninsular, produced a revised key to the bats of Madagascar and suggested that the use of trapping methods alone to survey bat communities was inadequate. This joint Université d’Antananarivo and University of Aberdeen project aims to conduct the first ever ultrasonic surveys of bat communities conducted in Madagascar, using state of the art time expansion ultrasonic receivers to record echolocation calls. By collecting calls of bat species present on the east coast of Madagascar, training local students and academics in the use of ultrasound analyses and the provision of suitable equipment, future studies of bats on the island will be greatly facilitated. The data generated will provide much needed data on bat community diversity in Madagascar and will have direct implications for bat conservation in the forest remnants of Madagascar as well as in cultivated areas.

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