Bats of Bangladesh: Bat Assemblage Structure and Species Responses to Land-Use Change

5 Feb 2021 Lawachara National Park, Bangladesh, Indian Sub-continent Bats | Habitats | Mammals

Md Ashraf Ul Hasan

The project aims to describe the diversity of bats and develop a key to the bats of Bangladesh; characterize the response of forest dependent bats to land-use change; build capacity to strengthen long-term bat research; improve knowledge among local communities on the importance of bats in nature and dispel misconception about bats.

Bangladesh, a small country consists of three ecoregions and a transition zone for the biodiversity between the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia making a biodiversity hotspot. Habitat modification through intensive anthropogenic pressures makes the natural habitats vulnerable and so for the forest dwelling animals. Bats are the most species rich mammals for the country, but the dwindling of the large forest patches eventually increase the threats to the forest dwelling bats. Especially the natural landscapes of the north-eastern region of Bangladesh are converting primarily into agriculture, timber plantations and human settlement which support more mammals than any other regions of the country. Tea estates around the protected areas represent the major agricultural crops. Moreover, timber plantations, encroachment, and expansion of agricultural activities inside the forests rapidly alter the natural habitats. However, bats are neglected in terms of research and conservation compared to other taxa regardless of their role as bioindicators. As the forests are the remaining semi-evergreen forests in Bangladesh and quickly altered by human interferences, it is imperative to understand how many bats persist and how they respond to land-use change before they are lost. Implementation of the complementary capture techniques as well as acoustics recordings will not only enrich the species list but also elevate the development of a call library. Moreover, strengthening bat research capacity and improvement of the people’s perception toward bats will expedite further bat research and conservation in Bangladesh.

Bats impart various trophic roles in tropical forests and interact with large range of organisms. They act as seed dispersers, pollinators, and agents of pest suppression. It is high time to unveil the taxonomy and ecology of bats in the forest remnants of the country.