Climate change reduces Queensland's bat numbers

Jul 09, 2007

A central eastern Queensland mine has turned up bat fossils which show climate change has had a negative impact on the state’s bat population.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) PhD student Sandrine Martinez is currently sifting through what is the largest and best record of the state’s southern most bat population from the late Pleistocene Epoch (beginning two million years ago and ending approximately 10,000 years ago).

The fossil deposits were uncovered by mining operations at Mt Etna, near Rockhampton. They contain a succession of bat remains ranging from the late Pleistocene Epoch to the present and span the transition from full tropical rainforest habitats to the more arid environment that currently characterises the Mt Etna region.

Ms Martinez will compare information obtained from fossil data to the bat communities that still occur in the Mt Etna caves.

“What I’ve found so far is an overall decrease in species richness – today the Mt Etna caves are inhabited by five species of bat (excluding fruit bats) while in the late Pleistocene there were at least eight,” Ms Martinez said.

“These bats are insectivores and their decline could be due to a reduction in their food sources in response to climate change – that’s something I’ll be investigating further.

“It’s important to understand what has happened to bats in the past to more accurately predict what could happen in the future and perhaps prevent any more loss of diversity.

“Bats play an important ecological role as natural insect control agents. They account for almost a quarter of all mammal species and are the only flying mammals.

“Bats are declining worldwide and any information about their ecology is crucial to their future management

“Bats are often excluded from palaeoecological analyses due to their rarity in the fossil record and the difficulty in identifying them to species level, so we know very little about them. We don’t want to let this lack of knowledge lead to extinction.”

Source: Queensland University of Technology

Explore further: 11 new species come to light in Madagascar

Related Stories

Architects to hatch Ecocapsule as low-energy house

12 hours ago

Where people call home depends on varied factors, from poverty level to personal philosophy to vanity to community pressure. Ecocapsule appears to be the result of special factors, a team of architects applying ...

California farmers agree to drastically cut water use

15 hours ago

California farmers who hold some of the state's strongest water rights avoided the threat of deep mandatory cuts when the state accepted their proposal to voluntarily reduce consumption by 25 percent amid ...

Apple may deliver ways to rev up the iPad, report says

15 hours ago

MacRumors last month said that the latest numbers from market research firm IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker revealed Apple stayed on as the largest vendor in a declining tablet market. The iPad ...

Recommended for you

11 new species come to light in Madagascar

1 hour ago

Madagascar is home to extraordinary biodiversity, but in the past few decades, the island's forests and associated biodiversity have been under greater attack than ever. Rapid deforestation is affecting the ...

Birds 'weigh' peanuts and choose heavier ones

May 23, 2015

Many animals feed on seeds, acorns or nuts. The common feature of these are that they have shells and there is no direct way to know what's inside. How do the animals know how much and what quality of food ...

Q&A: Why are antibiotics used in livestock?

May 22, 2015

Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, is the latest company to ask its suppliers to curb the use of antibiotics in farm animals. Here's a rundown of what's driving the decision: ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.