|Date||11 May 2015|
Fruit bats (Pteropodidae spp.) such as flying foxes (Pteropus spp.) are under severe threat in Peninsular Malaysia due to hunting (for food and medicine) and extermination (as agricultural pests). They are often viewed negatively, and are not charismatic flagship species, so there is little motivation to conserve them. Yet the decline of flying fox populations could have serious implications for Malaysia’s forest ecosystems, as well as people’s livelihoods and wellbeing – particularly on tropical islands. This is an especially urgent issue as flying foxes still do not have total legal protection in Peninsular Malaysia. Ecologists know that pteropodid bats provide important ecosystem services through seed dispersal and pollination. However, how can we document these processes and their specific benefits to people, and use these data to argue for protection of flying foxes and other fruit bats? How do we communicate this information to policymakers and local communities? Can fruit bats and humans co-exist in peace?
By studying the Island Flying Fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) on Tioman Island, this PhD project aims to answer these questions and provide baseline data to support the long-term goal of conserving pteropodid bats in Peninsular Malaysia. It has a strong applied conservation approach, utilising both ecological and social studies:
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