Fruit Bat Ecology and Ecosystem Services Provisions in Philippine Tropical Ecosystems

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Island ecosystems, in particular, are dependent upon bats for plant pollination and seed dispersal, as bat-mediated pollination and seed dispersal ensures gene flow across large and fragmented systems. In the Philippines, there are approximately 79 species of bats distributed in more than 7000 Islands, of which around 30% are fruit bats. Among these Rousettus amplexicaudatus and Eonycteris spelaea are likely to be some of the most important bat species in pollination; however, both are locally threatened by hunting and habitat destruction. There are also endemic and threatened species in the country that needs to be protected before they go extinct. The endemic fruit bat, Acerodon jubatus is one of the most important forest species in the Philippines, was previously documented as seed disperser of many plant species in the country and along different Islands. Despite the importance of the ecosystem services provided by fruit bats, there is little-published literature or research on bat pollination services across the region. The project is the first of its kind in the Philippines. The majority of the research on plant-bat mutualisms is confined to the neotropics, with very little in Southeast Asia (i.e. some has occurred in Thailand and Malaysia). An understanding of the ecosystem services provided by bats is vital to creating a concrete basis for the conservation and protection of these species and maintain the provision of services they provide. The current project aims to understand the least documented ecological interaction in the Philippines and aiming to determine the implication of current and future environmental change (i.e. Climate Change & Land-use change) to this crucial interaction.

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