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One of the most significant threats to the region’s bat diversity is habitat loss. Relative deforestation rates in Southeast Asia are the highest of any tropical region, and as much as 74% of forests may be lost by the end of the century. Ecomorphological constraints restrict a substantial component of the region’s bat fauna to intact stands of forest for foraging, with many restricted still further by their roosting ecology. Consequently, deforestation is expected to result in regional species losses > 40% and global extirpation losses of c. 23% of species by 2100.
Research Need and Justification: Few areas of intact forest in Southeast Asia have been intensively surveyed with the complement of capture methods needed to fully assess the diversity, and even fewer studies have explored the response of bats to land use change and fragmentation. Given the rapid rate of forest loss in Southeast Asia, standardized bat diversity surveys of intact forest blocks and assessments of survival in anthropogenic landscapes are urgently needed.
Global Actions: (1) Intensive, standardized surveys of intact forest ecosystems identify high diversity areas; (2) assessments of the response of forest-dependent bats to land-use change.
Needs Assessment: (1) Workshops to train researchers in methods for evaluating the diversity of forest-dwelling bats in intact and disturbed systems (harp traps, mist nets, acoustic monitoring) and standardized experimental designs; (2) centralized spatially explicit database with online data capture.
Projected Outputs: (1) Identification of high diversity forests most in need of protection (based on diversity, population size, presence of endemic or Red-listed species in combination with the degree of threat to the system); (2) identification of land-uses and land-use configurations that maximize forest-bat diversity in anthropogenic landscapes.