HomeScienceThey seek to protect bat shelters in the country

They seek to protect bat shelters in the country

Scientists carry out an inventory of caves in Venezuela to study bat colonies

Venezuelan scientists are developing a research project in relation to bats, specifically, identifying sites of importance for their conservation in the country.

The study is in the review phase of specialized literature on speleology in Venezuela and is part of a regional project that began in 2011, known as “Areas and sites of importance for the conservation of bats in Latin America and the Caribbean”, coordinated by the Latin American and Caribbean Network for the Conservation of Bats (Relcom).

What they seek is to identify caves and artificial shelters, the product of abandoned buildings, which due to the chiropterofauna present (threatened species, high species richness or key sites during the life cycle) merit protection or some special management measure. This includes natural areas, sites, monuments and sanctuaries.

"During the first phase of the project, we are making an inventory of the caves that have been registered in Venezuela, which based on the information available regarding bat colonies observed in them, allows us to generate a database from the who to make decisions about which caves to explore,” he told Últimas Noticias Jafet Nassar, head of the Ecology Center of the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (Ivic).

He explained that in future visits to the caves they will do a more complete analysis of the species present, colony sizes and condition of places in terms of vulnerability, with respect to anthropogenic activities (human activities with effects on nature), inside the caves or in surrounding areas, which could affect the chiropterofauna.

Once this information has been collected, files of areas and sites of importance for bat conservation will be generated in the field, which will be subjected to an evaluation by the Relcom network of experts.

After the files are approved, certificates are issued that will be used to inform the official entities of the administration and protection of the environment about the importance for the conservation of these caves, which gives rise to the authorities, both local and national, decide to promote the creation of protected sites for bats.

Currently, the Paraguaná Caves Fauna Sanctuary in Falcón state, and the Macanao Wildlife Reserve, in Nueva Esparta state, are two protected areas that have Relcom certifications due to the importance of the caves present in them, used as bat roosts.

Test

Nassar has also worked on research of this type at an international level, as is the case of his experience on Bonaire Island, where together with other colleagues they have been developing a conservation project since 2019 to protect colonies of cave-dwelling bats, which use caves as shelters. daytime and maternity.

On the island, tests were carried out to exclude humans from the chambers of the main caves used by large colonies of bats as shelters.

“We use a system of ropes that are anchored at the entrance of the chambers from which we want to exclude humans. Since then, we have recorded very important information about how the exclusion system impacts the behavior of the bats that use these caves as shelter and how long it takes them to adapt to the exclusion system, because the idea is for the bats to pass through the caves. , enter and exit; on the other hand, humans cannot pass,” he said.

In this way, the disturbance caused by people in the caves is eliminated, because one of the problems that bats have is the impact that humans generate when entering the caves and making noise, lighting or committing acts of vandalism, such as burning rubber, firewood or throwing stones at them, until killing dozens of them, in addition to scaring them away.

The projections are that this system can be put into practice in the Macanao caves, on the island of Margarita, since with the information obtained so far it is known that the exclusion system has a positive impact on bats, because it has been achieved increase the size of colonies in protected caves on Bonaire.

Bats constitute a group of mammals vital for the conservation of biodiversity associated with terrestrial ecosystems, in addition to the environmental services they provide. To mention one of them, their role as population regulators of many arthropods, including insects and crop pests.

Species

  • Venezuela. In Venezuela there are 173 species of bats and in the rest of the world almost 1.411, although new ones are discovered every year.
  • Zones. New bat species are detected mostly in tropical areas. It is possible that more species not reported until now for the country or even for science could be found in the Venezuelan Amazon.
Access exclusion system with guayas in a cave on Bonaire Island.

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