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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Battling for the biosphere – bats as indicators of global environmental change Event

Dr Emma Stone
7 November 2018
Building 44 Room 1041

For more information regarding this event, please telephone Maria Hilliard on 023 8059 4728 or email .

Event details

Battling for the biosphere – bats as indicators of Global Environmental Change Urbanisation is a key driver of global environmental change (GEC), a significant factor in current and predicted species extinctions and a major threat to biodiversity. The scale and speed of urbanisation is pushing the scientific frontier. Urban environments are models for understanding and mitigating the effects of GEC. Understanding the responses of biodiversity to urbanisation and its associated impacts is key to predicting the impacts of future GEC and developing sustainable urban futures. I use bats to understand and predict future impacts of GEC on biodiversity and its implications for planning and conservation policy both in the UK and Africa. In the UK I used an experimental approach to highlight and identify the impact of artificial lighting on terrestrial biodiversity using insects and bats and make recommendations for planning and habitat management. Despite the highest rate of urbanisation occurring in the developing world there is a lack of understanding of the impacts of urbanisation on biodiversity in developing countries, which experience a different suite of challenges, including increased human wildlife conflict and risks of emerging infectious diseases. Malawi is one of the most densely populated African countries and a model environment to assess the impacts of GEC on biodiversity and human health. Despite having high bat species endemism and diversity, bats suffer from habitat loss, active persecution and hunting. Bats occupy the majority of buildings in communities causing conflict through accumulation of guano, noise and fear. Pest control agents exterminate bats and their roosts, and bats are traded for meat and cultural practices including witchcraft and female genital mutilation (FGM). Working through my Charitable project African Bat Conservation I have been testing the impacts of landscape change on bats in Malawi, and investigating how human behaviour combines with habitat change to affect the diversity and persistence of species, patterns of conflict and risks to human health. I will discuss my findings from a field experiment to quantify ecosystem services provided by bats in coffee plantations and the drivers of bat and insect diversity in urban landscapes. Next stage research involves an integrated multidisciplinary approach combining ecological, epidemiological and socio-ecological research to determine the impacts of urbanisation on communities and bats, and assess impacts of bat trade and consumption on human health. Working closely with the Lilongwe City Council all results are translated into planning and management recommendations to generate societal impact, and have been used to implement environmental enforcement strategies, amend National wildlife legislation and build capacity in local government and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife.

Speaker information

Dr Emma Stone,University of the West of England,Department of Applied Sciences Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences

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