CHAI Jia Yi Zoe, Life Sciences Major – AY 2015/16
Use of artificial (commensal) roosts by bats in Singapore
Urbanisation is probably detrimental to most bats. Most studies report that urban bat assemblages are less diverse than non-urban ones and some (as in my PhD) report reduced reproduction and/or fitness. In Singapore (SG), massive deforestation, driven by agricultural and urban land uses, and other pressures has clearly affected the bat assemblage, which has lost several species.
However, certain aspects of urbanisation may not be detrimental to all bats, and some urban features may benefit some species, even helping them expand their distributions. This may be especially true for bats that exhibit commensal roosting, meaning using anthropogenic or artificial structures, such as buildings, bridges, etc. But commensal roosting is a poorly studied adaptation, especially in the tropics.
The impetus for Zoe’s project was anecdotal evidence (and my own observations) of bats in commensal roosts – she identified which bats exhibit this behaviour and described attributes of their roosts at the microhabitat and landscape levels.