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Benign effects of logging on aerial insectivorous bats in Southeast Asia revealed by remote sensing technologies

Yoh, Natalie, Seaman, Dave J.I., Deere, Nicolas J., Bernard, Henry, Bicknell, Jake E., Struebig, Matthew J. (2023) Benign effects of logging on aerial insectivorous bats in Southeast Asia revealed by remote sensing technologies. Journal of Applied Ecology, 60 (7). pp. 1210-1222. ISSN 0021-8901. E-ISSN 1365-2664. (doi:10.1111/1365-2664.14398) (KAR id:100138)


Logging is the most widespread disturbance in tropical forests, altering ecological communities and functions. However, many species can persist in logged forests, particularly where disturbance is low. Despite a growing understanding of how logging effects wildlife, there remains little information for Southeast Asia’s bats – in part due to major challenges in monitoring.

We integrated remote sensing data from passive acoustic bat detectors with LiDAR-derived measures of forest structure from a human-modified landscape in Sabah, Borneo. Our appraisal of logging effects benefitted from a semi-automated classifier of bat calls that vastly speeds up the analysis of acoustic recording data. We recorded 105,576 bat passes from 21 phonic groups across a habitat disturbance gradient, comprising old-growth forest, repeatedly logged forest, and tree plantations.

We show that logging pressure (as depicted by changes to habitat quality e.g. canopy height or shape) had negligible impact on the acoustic activity of bats. However, bat activity was higher in areas with a greater extent of high-biomass forest, as well as areas with greater topographical ruggedness. Logged forest supported higher levels of activity for several common bat phonic groups compared to old-growth forest. Across the landscape, plantations supported the lowest levels of bat activity, representing a three-fold decrease compared to old growth forest, and several species were not recorded in this habitat

We found different call groups demonstrated different responses to forest disturbance. Sheath-tailed bats (Emballonura spp.) were active across all habitat types and were the most resilient to logging. Edge/open foragers were more prevalent in highly forested and topographically-rugged areas. Horseshoe and Running title: The effects of logging on bats in Southeast Asia 3 leaf-nosed bats (flutter clutter foragers) demonstrated idiosyncratic responses to logging but were consistently absent from plantations.

Synthesis and applications. Logged forests can provide an important refuge for many common bat species in Southeast Asia, but do not capture the full breadth of forest-specialist species. Nevertheless, logged forests provide substantially better habitat for bats than tree plantations. While aerial insectivorous bats sampled via acoustic methods are poor indicators of forest disturbance overall, several species that respond predictably to logging could be targeted for biodiversity monitoring using acoustic and capture-based methods

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/1365-2664.14398
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author(s) has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.
Uncontrolled keywords: Chiroptera; Southeast Asia; acoustic monitoring; land-use change, biodiversity; remote sensing
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH541 Ecology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
S Agriculture > SD Forestry
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council (
Leverhulme Trust (
Depositing User: Matthew Struebig
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2023 11:09 UTC
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2024 00:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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