How will greening the desert affect bats and the ecosystem services they provide?

Lead Research Organisation: UNIVERSITY OF EXETER
Department Name: Biosciences


Understanding how human-mediated land cover changes affect species and the ecosystem services they provide is a major challenge for biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene. Irrigation and water transportation techniques have enabled the spread of large human settlements and commercial agriculture into arid environments, resulting in the 'greening' of the desert. This process has provided alternative foraging habitats, prey and water sources for desert wildlife and increased landscape connectivity. However, it also facilitated colonisation by generalist species not adapted to xeric environments.
These environmental changes likely left a signature on desert wildlife, affecting both their nutritional ecology and movement behaviour. Responses to anthropogenic changes can be inferred through studying the organism's gut microbiota due to its rapid adaptive responses to environmental variation[1]. Landscape connectivity affects movement and consequently genetic structure; hence, through studying spatial patterns of genetic variation we can understand how the greening process affected species movement patterns[2].
Insectivorous bats are major contributors to desert mammalian biodiversity that provide important ecosystems services through the suppression of insect pest populations and transportation of nutrients[3]. This project will test how anthropogenic greening of the desert has affected the movement patterns and microbiota of desert bats and the ecosystem services they provide.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/W503010/1 31/03/2021 30/03/2022
1941789 Studentship NE/W503010/1 30/09/2017 30/03/2022 Evie Morris