Projects


Temporal dynamics of the impacts of forest fragmentation on Neotropical bat assemblages

Due the short-term nature of most research projects, for most taxa, fragmentation effects have been studied as static phenomena and much remains unknown about the dynamics of fragmented tropical ecosystems and how species respond to habitat fragmentation over longer timescales. Although a growing number of studies have addressed the effects of forest fragmentation on tropical bat assemblages, little is known about how bats respond to habitat fragmentation over the longer term. Much of our understanding of tropical fragmentation has been derived from the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP) in Brazil, the world’s largest and longest-running experimental study of habitat fragmentation. The impacts of forest fragmentation on the BDFFP bat fauna were initially assessed in 1996-99 (PhD thesis Erica Sampaio). The overall objective of this FCT-funded project (PI: Christoph Meyer) is to investigate the temporal dynamics of bat responses to forest fragmentation within the BDFFP landscape. The available data set from 1996-99 provides a unique opportunity for a comparative follow-up study aimed at elucidating temporal changes in the bat fauna and can provide rare insights into the longer-term dynamics of a fragmented tropical bat assemblage. Matrix dynamics and landscape context play a major role in determining species responses to fragmentation and the BDFFP landscape provides an ideal setting to assess how the temporal dynamics of matrix development influences bat species responses to fragmentation. Learn more about the project here!






Role of endemic pigeons and of frugivorous bats as seed dispersers in São Tomé

In the tropics, many plants rely on frugivorous animals for seed dispersal, making frugivores key players in the structuring and maintenance of tropical forests. In collaboration with the Birds & Bats Lab we are currently studying the relative importance of the endemic fruit-pigeons and of frugivorous bats on the island of São Tomé as tree seed dispersers. This research forms part of a comprehensive project on the ecology, management, and conservation of the endemic pigeons of São Tomé ("Endemic pigeons of São Tomé: developing science-based conservation and sustainable use of African forest pigeons"; PI: Jorge Palmeirim).


 



Distribution patterns and population status of the bats of the island of São Tomé

The bat fauna of São Tomé is characterized by a remarkably high degree of endemism. However, while many bat species on the island are considered threatened, little is known about their distribution and population status and how they may be affected by human activities such as hunting, roost disturbance and habitat destruction. Together with members from the Birds & Bat Lab we assessed species distributions and their current population status on the island in an effort to identify potential threats and priority areas for species protection.




Not so tropical....

Phylogeography and population genetics of the giant noctule bat, Nyctalus lasiopterus

The giant noctule bat (Nyctalus lasiopterus) is the largest and also one of the rarest European bat species. The geographical distribution range of this forest-dwelling vespertilionid bat includes Eurasia and Northwest Africa, extending from the Iberian Peninsula to Central Asia. While recent studies have broadened our knowledge about the species' ecology and foraging behavior, we lack information on its levels of genetic variation and how it is spatially structured. In collaboration with Javier Juste and Carlos Ibáñez from Doñana Biological Station in Seville, we are assessing genetic variation in this species at two spatial scales: on the one hand using phylogeographic analysis of the historical relationships between European populations and on the other hand, in a detailed population genetic analysis, between different Iberian populations to establish their levels of genetic isolation and gene flow.



Impact of grazing on bats and birds in cork-oak woodlands in southern Portugal

The agro-forestry-pastoral system known in Portugal as "montado" is an important land cover type which dominates much of the landscape in the south of the country, besides also covering large areas in other Mediterranean countries. In this project led by the Birds & Bats Lab team ("Agro-forestry management practices of montados and its impact on bats and birds", PI: Jorge Palmeirim) we are involved in investigating the influence of sheep grazing on bats, birds, and their arthropod prey with the overall goal to contribute to the identification of management practices that maximize the biodiversity value of these ecosystems while at the same time preserving their economic importance.



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Project titleReferencePeriodFunded byPrincipal Investigator
"Temporal dynamics of the impacts of forest fragmentation on Neotropical bat assemblages" PTDC/BIA-BIC/111184/2009 2011-2014 Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) Christoph Meyer 
"Endemic pigeons of São Tomé: developing science-based conservation and sustainable use of African forest pigeons" PTDC/BIA-BIC/115223/200 2011-2013 Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) Jorge Palmeirim 
"Agro-forestry management practices of montados and its impact on bats and birds" PTDC/AGR-AAM/108448/2008 2010-2013 Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) Jorge Palmeirim 
“Regional patterns of gene flow and population genetic differentiation among isolated populations of the giant noctule bat, Nyctalus lasiopterus, in southern Iberia"    Christoph Meyer (CBA), Javier Juste & Carlos Ibánez (Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Seville, Spain) 
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