Previous Kate Barlow Award Winners
2023 winner - Oliver Aylen
The 2023 Kate Barlow Award was awarded to Oliver Aylen for his project Arid zone bats resource availability and predation risk surrounding fenced conservation reserves.
Since European colonization Australia has been altered by land-use change, the introduction of feral herbivores and predators and the removal of native predators. This has had multiple impacts on native bat populations, including predation of bats by cats, and changes to vegetation structure because of increased herbivory which may reduce insect abundance and recruitment of roost trees. Fenced reserves are an increasingly used conservation tool to protect native/threatened nonvolant species in Australia, and globally. Oliver’s project will investigate whether fenced reserves reduce bat predation, harbour increased food resources and/or roost sites. He will also assess whether artificial roosts can be used to encourage bat populations to use fenced reserves. Oliver’s project forms part of his PhD thesis at the University of New South Wales, Australia.
2022 winner - Elyce Gosselin
Genomic data generated as a part of Elyce’s project will provide novel information about the phylogenomics, landscape genomics and population genomics of the two species of bats found in the Galápagos Islands: the Galapagos red bat (Lasiurus blossevillii brachyotis) and hoary bat (L. villosissimus). While the Galápagos is an iconic island system and many species have been studied extensively, very little is known about the bat populations despite their status as two of the few terrestrial mammals native to the Galapagos. With the genomic data, Elyce will be able to evaluate the taxonomic status of the two species of bats, determine the timing and number of colonization events, evaluate whether there is gene flow between islands, and estimate genetic diversity and effective population size. This information, as well as occupancy modelling and habitat-use data collected as another part of her project, will be used to create a data-informed, long-term management and monitoring plan with Galapagos National Park. Elyce’s project forms part of her PhD thesis at the University of Idaho, USA.
2021 winner - Laura Torrent
Download Laura's final report here
Laura examined 1,124 bat specimens stored at the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC), Sevilla, Spain that were collected across Equatorial Guinea in the 1990s. She also applied genetic sequencing to wing punch samples collected during field expeditions between 2020-2022 to confirm the species identification of cryptic complexes. Combining the information from the EBD-CSIC scientific collection and from recent field data, she confirmed the presence of 54 bat species for mainland Equatorial Guinea, including 31 new species for the country. Her work also expanded the known distribution of several rare and endangered species including Hipposideros curtus and Glauconycteris superba. To improve future bat field work in the country she contributed to a dichotomous key (both in English and in Spanish). She is also carrying out bat surveys to inform the creation of a new protected area, National Park “Ciudad de la Paz” to connect two existing national parks.
2020 winner - Paula Iturralde-Pólit
Paula’s project will investigate the thermal tolerance of montane bat species in Southern Costa Rica, and use this information to predict the impact of climate change on these species. She will establish the maximum temperature at which several montane bat species can maintain their basal metabolic rates, to gauge the species’ sensitivity to changes in temperature. This information will be used, along with species’ distribution and climate models, to forecast which areas might be more or less suitable for these species in future. This project forms part of Paula’s PhD at the Universidad de Costa Rica.
2019 winner - Benneth Obitte
Download Benneth's final report here
Benneth used an innovative socio-ecological approach to evaluate the drivers of bat hunting and meat consumption in southern Nigeria, particularly of the Egyptian fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus).
About 20% of sub-Saharan bat species are hunted, with large-bodied fruit bats being the most targeted. In southern Nigeria, the Egyptian fruit bat is a cave-dependent species and is critical for pollination and seed dispersal of ecologically and economically important plants. Unfortunately it is also a target of widespread hunting. Benneth estimated R. aegyptiacus abundance from 41 caves (1-54,800 per cave) and evaluated hunting offtake (as high as 4000 individuals per caves in one hunting effort). Focus group discussions, questionnaire surveys, and interviews identified availability, taste, and income as important drivers of bat hunting and bat meat consumption. Locality-specific conservation education/outreach programs significantly improved knowledge and perception of bats in school children. Participatory town hall meetings led to key outcomes such as ban on bat hunting and identification of appropriate alternative protein sources and livelihoods. This study demonstrated the negative impact of hunting on the roosting ecology of R. aegyptiacus and provided the first direct measure of hunting pressure on bats.
2018 winner - Laura Pulscher
Download Laura's final report here
Laura's research has been published in PLOS ONE
Laura's project formed part of her PhD at the University of Sydney on
the Christmas Island Flying-Fox (Pteropus melanotus natalis)
(CIFF). The Christmas Island Flying-fox is the last endemic mammal on Christmas Island (CI), is critically endangered and is still declining. Nutritional imbalances stemming from preferential consumption of introduced plants have been theorized as a contributing factor to its decline. With help from the Kate Barlow Award, this study aimed to determine how CIFFs historically utilized native plants to meet their nutritional requirements and if nutritional content of non-native food plants differ from native food plants.
Nutritional analysis of native food sources indicated that CIFFs historically obtained the bulk of their energy from fruit and nectar, however these food sources have minimal protein and calcium. Therefore, CIFFs likely supplemented their diets with leaves, petioles, stems, and pollen which are rich sources of essential minerals and protein. In comparison to native fruits, non-native fruit, on average, contained less protein and essential minerals but higher carbohydrates. Thus, if the CIFF is preferentially consuming non-native food plants they may not meet nutritional requirements or they may overconsume carbohydrates in order to meet protein demands, resulting in obesity. A few non-native fruit species had nutritional content similar to native fruit and therefore may be an important non-native food source for CIFF. This study recommends that, when choosing plants to re-vegetate areas, native food plants or non-native food plants with similar nutritional profiles are used to maximize nutrition.
2017 winner - Kristen Lear
Kristen's project focused on conserving the
endangered Mexican long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris nivalis). This
species is a rare but vital pollinator, classified as endangered by the
IUCN due to drastic declines of over 50% in the past 10 years. Each
spring, the females migrate 1200km from central Mexico to
northeast Mexico and the U.S. southwest, where they give birth to their
young. During their journey, they rely on the nectar and pollen of agave
plants for food, and during foraging provide critical pollination
services to the plants which are of vital ecological, cultural and
economical value. Kristen's project filled critical knowledge gaps for the implementation of agave restoration programs for the endangered Mexican long-nosed bat, specifically regarding their foraging preferences and the feasibility of implementing agave programs with rural Mexican communities.