BAT RESEARCH TEAM
Artibeus. Noctilio. Carollia. Glossophaga. Lophostoma. Phyllostomus. Uroderma.
Understanding the diversity and population dynamics
of wild bats in Amazonian Peru
The Bat Research Team, headquartered in the city of Puerto Maldonado, is tasked with identifying all bat species living within a 2 km radius of each field site; characterising the ultrasound call patterns for each species; understanding the physical characteristics of each species and how they vary within and between sites; estimating the abundance of bats within and between sites; identifying the factors that explain variation in bat diversity and abundance between sites; and identifying the key threats to bats at each site so that these can be addressed with landowners. There are an estimated 80 species of bats in the tropical lowland rainforests of the Madre de Dios region of Peru.
Methods Used and Skills Taught
The bat sampling methods that our volunteers and interns learn and implement under the leadership and supervision of our professional research coordinators, include mist-net capture, morphometrics measuring, mark-release-recapture, and acoustic recording of echolocation calls at the moment of release. Photography and videography are also used to characterise the physical appearance and sometimes the behaviour of bats. Data is analysed in R, SPSS, and with bioacoustic software. Each week, sampling is undertaken Monday to Friday, during nocturnal sessions beginning at 8 pm and occasionally in the pre-dawn period as well. A total of 9 mist-nets are used for bat sampling. In addition, the team has one handheld GPS receiver to collect data on where bats were observed and heard. Click here for precise details of sampling protocols.
Thumbless bat (Furipterus horrens)
Photo: Adria Lopez-Baucells
Mosquitoes are a preferred diet item
for many bats. Photo: Lary Reeves
A Typical Day
The blunt end of research with bats is mainly undertaken at night, as there are very few if any bats in the Amazon rainforest that forage during the day, unlike in other parts of the world such as Africa and the Far East. Nocturnal sampling sessions with mist-nets and sound recording equipment begins around 8 pm and last 3 or 4 hours. Some pre-dawn work, between 3 and 5 am, is also undertaken. Having rested as much as possible, daytime activities consist of data entry and analysis. Some sampling is undertaken during the day, for instance monitoring the presence of bats in roosts in hollow logs, in abandoned termite tests, on the underside of large leaves, and on the trunks of trees.
Volunteer and Intern Participation Fees
All meals (veg options available) and lodging (shared rooms), scheduled transfers, field training and supervision, research permits, research activities, local Sunday expeditions.
Flights, non-scheduled transfers, clothes washing, rubber boots, rain poncho, personal medical issues.
1 week - US$ 500
2 weeks - US$ 900
3 weeks - US$ 1200
1 month - US$ 1600
6 weeks - US$ 2200
2 months - US$ 2850
3 months - US$ 4100
Any time of year. We recommend successful applicants arrive in the city of Puerto Maldonado (PEM) on either a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday if at all possible. The city is served by daily flights from Lima (LIM) and Cusco (CUZ) via the airlines Latam, Avianca, and StarPeru.
Non-profit Fee Breakdown
Rapid Color Guides
Bats of Cocha Cashu Biological Station
Rapid Color Guides - The Field Museum
Bats of Los Amigos Biological Station
Rapid Color Guides - The Field Museum
Ascorra (1993) The bats from Jenaro Herrera, Loreto, Peru. Mammalia 1993.
Caras (2009) Effect of vegetation density on the use of trails by bats in a secondary tropical rain forest. Journal of Tropical Ecology
Kunz (2011) Ecosystem services provided by bats. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1223: 1-38.