Rachel Blakey

Rachel Blakey


Author Date Title Link PDF
Blakey et al. 2018 Importance of wetlands to bats on a dry continent: a review and meta-analysis

Abstract: Australia has diverse landscapes ranging from wet tropical regions in the north to temperate regions in the south and a vast arid interior. This variety has given rise to not only a speciose bat fauna, but also a variety of wetland ecosystems. The relationship between bats and wetlands is influenced by a range of environmental gradients including: aridity and climate variability, hydrological, structural, productivity and salinity. However, little is known about how these gradients influence bats in Australian wetland systems. Our aim was to determine whether wetlands were important for Australia’s bat communities, identify the environmental gradients influencing this importance, and review the threats to wetland bat communities combining a review and meta-analysis. We reviewed the literature on bats within wetland ecosystems in six ecoregions (arid, semi-arid floodplain, temperate, tropics, estuarine/saline and urban) in Australia. We used a meta-analysis to estimate relative wetland importance across ecoregions by calculating the effect size of the difference in bat activity between 43 paired wet and dry habitats. Bats were significantly more active in wet than surrounding dry habitats in arid and semi-arid floodplain. Urban wetlands also hosted greater bat activity than surrounding dry areas in 4 out of 7 sites. Wetlands were generally less important for bats in warm, wet tropical areas, and more important for bats in dry landscapes where landscape woody cover and productivity were low. Relative to dry areas within each region assessed, wetlands were most important for bats in semi-arid floodplain and urban regions. These regions are also under greatest threats from vegetation clearing, modification of flow regimes, development pressures, pollution and climate change.

View PDF
Clarke-Wood et al. 2016 The ecological response of insectivorous bats to coastal lagoon degradation

Coastal lagoons provide key habitat for a wide range of biota but are often degraded by intense urbanization pressures. Insectivorous bats use these highly productive ecosystems and are likely to be impacted by their decline in quality. We compared bat activity and richness and invertebrate biomass and richness across a gradient of lagoon quality (9 lagoons) in the Greater Sydney region, Australia to determine the extent to which bats and their prey were impacted by lagoon degradation. Bats were more diverse and 19 times more active at higher quality lagoons. The trawling bat, Myotis macropus, was absent from all low quality lagoons, but these lagoons were used by other species such as Miniopterus schreibersii oceanensis. Invertebrate richness and biomass did not differ significantly across lagoon quality. We examined potential mechanisms of insectivorous bat decline at degraded lagoons by measuring toxic metal concentrations in bat fur, invertebrates and sediment. Lead and zinc were detected at environmentally significant levels in the sediments of lower quality lagoons. Furthermore, lead concentrations were 6 times the lowest observable adverse effects level for small mammals in the hair of one individual M. macropus. The present study demonstrates that coastal lagoons support a rich bat community, but ongoing development and pollution of these habitats is likely to negatively impact on insectivorous bat species, especially trawling species.

Online: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320716303172

Go to top