In urban areas the majority of land management actions such as the clearing of habitat, pruning of dead branches, planting of particular tree species, artificial lighting at night and the design of parks are likely to disadvantage and contribute to the extinction of bats. This research aims to identify the broad landscape scale habitat features as well as the micro-scale features (e.g. preferred nesting locations) that will enable managers of urban areas to consciously manage for bats as well as humans. It should be able to provide information on how to conserve bats within single house-lot developments within the inner suburbs and large-scale residential developments on the urban-rural fringe.
Extensive field surveys will be combined with sophisticated mathematical modelling to identify critical habitat requirements and predict microbat distribution across other regions. This project is unique, as systematic, large-scale surveys of large cities have never been undertaken and volunteers have never been used in this capacity before. In natural landscapes, traps and bat detectors can be left in place with minimal supervision. This can not be achieved in cities and towns due to the threat of people interfering with exposed equipment. However, volunteers will help to overcome this problem by assisting in bat surveys at multiple sites across large areas of greater Melbourne. The results will assist in conserving insectivorous bats in Melbourne and other urbanising landscapes around the world.
Meet the Scientists
Dr Rodney van der Ree
Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology and The University of Melbourne
Dr Rodney van der Ree is ARCUE's (Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology) Senior Ecologist at the Royal Botanic Gardens. He obtained his PhD in 2000 from Deakin University where he studied the impacts of habitat fragmentation on arboreal marsupials in north-eastern Victoria. He used the principles of landscape ecology to investigate the response of fauna to a landscape where the habitat was arranged as a network of linear strips along roads and streams.
Rod now investigates the response of mammals to urbanisation and will be investigating the distribution and abundance of mammals within the greater Melbourne area, with a focus on the rate of species decline, their habitat requirements and survival prospects.