Title of symposium:
Advances in the understanding of tropical bats as pollinators and seed dispersers

Principal organizer:
Dr. Tuanjit Sritongchuay
Centre for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Science

Co-organizers:
Dr. Ricardo Rocha
Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge

Dr. Alice C. Hughes
Centre for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Science

Symposium Summary
Tropical bats are key pollinators and seed dispersers in tropical ecosystems. Their displacement considerably impacts the structure and function of rainforest ecosystems, however, we still lack a clear understanding of the complexity of tropical plant-bat interactions. Due to their wide distribution and functional diversity, bats have developed different foraging strategies encompassing a wide dietary breadth. Nearly one third of the world's bats feed on fruit or nectar acting as vital (and sometimes exclusive) pollinators for many plants, many of which are of great economic value. Many tropical bats are specialized in the fruits of pioneer trees (e.g. genera Vismia and Cecropia) and consequently are of the outmost importance to the regeneration of tropical rainforests. Despite the ecological and economic importance of phytophagous bats, their appetite for fruits often leads to human-wildlife conflict that frequently results in the culling of thousands of individuals, sometimes of threatened species. Many populations are threatened as a result of unprecedented habitat loss, unsustainable agriculture and bushmeat consumption. Thus quantifying their importance in the provision of ecosystem services is essential to develop evidence-based conservation strategies that maintain the essential ecosystems services provided by bats while minimizing their impact in human activities. In this symposium, we aim to bring together bat ecologists/conservationists to present and highlight research related to ecosystem services associated with bats. We also aim to synthesize bat conservation issues across the tropics and stimulate peer and multidisciplinary discussion on developing future priorities for research and conservation policies.

List of speakers and presentation titles:

  1. Tuanjit Sritongchuay, Bat roles in pollination network in mixed fruit orchards, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (Thailand/China)
  2. Sheema Abdul Aziz, Flying foxes in Malaysia: Conserving uncharismatic mammals of ecological and economic importance, RIMBA (Malaysia)
  3. Sheherazade, Flying fox pollination services in Sulawesi, University of Florida (Indonesia/US)
  4. Sherry Ramayla, Seasonal diet of flying fox in karst areas, Philippine Science High School Central Visayas Campus (Philippines)