THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Some bats weigh just 3.5 gm. And there are some that roost inside bamboo. The world of bats is wide and diverse and Sreehari Raman’s was an attempt to comprehensively document it.
His research paper, which was published in the Journal of Bat Research and Conservation on Friday, offers a detailed understanding of the diversity, status and distribution of various bat species in Kerala. Sreehari’s survey has recorded 48 species, of which 15 are new records in the state.
“Bats constitute 42 per cent of the terrestrial mammalian diversity of the state. But the bats are under-documented and understudied. Understanding species diversity and species distributions across the region is essential for developing effective conservation plans,” says Sreehari, assistant professor of the Department of Wildlife Sciences at the College of Forestry, Kerala Agricultural University.
The comprehensive bat survey was conducted at 43 different locations across various protected and non-protected areas of Kerala over a span of four years. The study was undertaken under the guidance of Alice C Hughes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“Enough studies or surveys haven’t been conducted for bats owing to the difficulty in sampling, identification, lack of identification keys and also lack of experts in the field,” says Sreehari. The research paper has the database wherein bats from the forests of Agasthyamala in Thiruvananthapuram to Ranipuram in Kasaragod have been documented.
The research paper can be a reference for creating the management plan for bat conservation in sanctuaries and national parks in Kerala, he says. “The recent Nipah outbreak also added to the existing threat to bats of this region,” says Sreehari, a native of Kollam.