Microbats in the Wet Tropics : their physiological and ecological requirements.
The rainforests of the Australian Wet Tropics are globally recognised for their high level of biodiversity. Bats contribute significantly to this diversity with over 30 species of bat inhabiting the region. Regardless, few studies have been conducted focusing on bats in the Wet Tropics. The biogeographic history of this unique region means many species inhabiting the Wet Tropics have adapted to a cool, wet and relatively stable environment. This adaptation may make the fauna of the Wet Tropics particularly vulnerable to relatively unexplored threats, such as global climate change. This project will provide an in-depth study into the altitudinal community assemblage of bats of the Wet tropics, looking specifically at what factors may drive distribution and how these may be affected by global climate change. The relationships between ecophysiological tolerances and species distribution, and how this may be affected by changes in environmental parameters, such as increasing temperature, will be further investigated through the development of predictive models. Modelling will increase our ability to predict changes in community assemblage based on expected levels of global climate change. Understanding these changes will allow us to make informed decisions regarding the conservation of this important species, and the mitigation of overall biodiversity loss in the Wet Tropics and other tropical ecosystems.