Bats show responses to anthropogenic stressors linked to changes in other ecosystem components such as insects, and as K-selected mammals, exhibit fast population declines. This speciose, widespread mammal group shows an impressive trophic diversity and provides key ecosystem services. For these and other reasons, bats might act as suitable bioindicators in many environmental contexts. However, few studies have explicitly tested this potential, and in some cases, stating that bats are useful bioindicators more closely resembles a slogan to support conservation than a well-grounded piece of scientific evidence. Here, we review the available information and highlight the limitations that arise in using bats as bioindicators. Based on the limited number of studies available, the use of bats as bioindicators is highly promising and warrants further investigation in specific contexts such as river quality, urbanisation, farming practices, forestry, bioaccumulation, and climate change. Whether bats may also serve as surrogate taxa remains a controversial yet highly interesting matter. Some limitations to using bats as bioindicators include taxonomical issues, sampling problems, difficulties in associating responses with specific stressors, and geographically biased or delayed responses. Overall, we urge the scientific community to test bat responses to specific stressors in selected ecosystem types and develop research networks to explore the geographic consistency of such responses. The high cost of sampling equipment (ultrasound detectors) is being greatly reduced by technological advances, and the legal obligation to monitor bat populations already existing in many countries such as those in the EU offers an important opportunity to accomplish two objectives (conservation and bioindication) with one action.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.