Previous Kate Barlow Award Winners

2021 winner - Laura Torrent

2021 winner - Laura Torrent

Laura's project will provide one of the most thorough evaluations to date of the bat diversity of Equatorial Guinea, a hugely understudied region located in one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in Africa. This work will provide critical information for local authorities and support their efforts to protect its bat species. This project will use genetic techniques to assess, for the first time, an entirely unstudied voucher collection of over 1,000 bat specimens collected across Equatorial Guinea in the 1990s. This will allow a conservation benefit to be derived from this collection. In addition it will consider wing-punch tissue samples collected in more recent years. Laura's project forms part of her PhD at the Universidade do Porto, Portugal

2019 winner - Benneth Obitte

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

2018 winner - Laura Pulscher

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

2017 winner - Kristen Lear

Download Kristen's final report here, and watch a short documentary about her project here.

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.