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Yanbaru whiskered bat (Myotis yanbarensis)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 182518110

Ecology and severe range restriction of the Yanbaru whiskered bat

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 182518110) - Yanbaru whiskered bat - Awarded $5,000 on September 11, 2018

The Yanbaru whiskered bat is a Critically Endangered tree-dwelling bat endemic to three islands in the Ryukyu Archipelago. Almost nothing is known about the ecology of this species and no bat-specific conservation management exists. In order to provide the necessary information to support conservation actions, the Island Bat Research Group (https://www.batresearch.net) is researching the Yanbaru whiskered bat on Okinawa Island, where the species was first discovered in 1996. Our study objectives are as follows.

1. Use automated acoustic recorders to determine the range and patterns of activity of the Yanbaru whiskered bat.
2. Locate and describe roosting sites, during both the maternity season and non-maternity season. Adequate availability and protection of roosts are essential to bat conservation, and limited roost availability may reduce useable habitat.
3. Compare our results to environmental variables (e.g. forest age, distance to streams) to assess what types of habitats this species prefers and what factors may be related to potential range restriction.
4. Draft recommendations for the first species management plan based on study results. Additionally, we aim to share our results with the local and international community to highlight Okinawan bats and promote their conservation.

Preliminary results:
Thanks to the support of the MBZSCF, we have significantly expanded the Yanbaru whiskered bat's known range on Okinawa Island. In addition, we have just recently discovered a maternity roost for the first time, and this species appears to prefer roosting in tree holes and foraging along rivers. Although we have now detected this species in areas beyond the valley where it was first discovered, the Yanbaru whiskered bat is still much rarer than other bats in the study area, and we are continuing our research to figure out why.

Project 182518110 location - Japan, Asia