International Symposium on the importance of bats as bioindicators

There is growing alarm and a great degree of uncertainty among scientists and governments over the possible catastrophic effects of climate change, combined with the destruction and degradation of natural habitats and the high present rates of biodiversity loss. Given the complexity of ecosystems and their biological communities, it is not easy to directly assess the health of natural environments and how it changes over time. Scientists therefore use particular taxa that show measurable responses to these changes as indicators of the state and quality of the environment. These “bioindicators” should ideally reflect the responses of a wide range of taxa and thus inform about the functionality of the whole ecosystem.

While insects, birds and aquatic macroinvertebrates are common bioindicator groups, comparatively much less work has been done on the use of bats as bioindicators. However, several studies suggest that bats’ great taxonomic, ecological and trophic diversity, high sensitivity to temperature changes and to habitat deterioration, geographic ubiquity and good population numbers could indeed make bats excellent indicators of environmental change.

For bats to be useful bioindicators, bat monitoring programs should be cost-efficient, reliable and sufficiently standardized to allow large-scale studies and comparison of results over time and between geographical areas. Fortunately, new technologies such as acoustic monitoring and advances in data storage and sharing are developing rapidly, also in the context of bat monitoring.

We believe it is therefore an ideal time to compile and integrate current developments on bats as bioindicators of environmental change, to contrast experiences on bat monitoring worldwide and to open up new ideas for developing more successful bat monitoring schemes. With this goal in mind, this symposium will bring together international experts in climate change, bioindication and biomonitoring. While the main focus of the Symposium will be on bats, discussions will benefit from experiences made by monitoring programs of other taxa, such as insects and birds. More than serving as a simple exchange of ideas, the Symposium will encourage contributors to participate in the production of a joint publication that will summarize the state of the art regarding bats and bioindication and discuss the pros, cons and future perspectives of current and projected bat monitoring programs.

The Organization Commitee

More info: BATS

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