Helen Taylor-Boyd

BES PhD StudentPhD Research Student

MSc Conservation Biology, Manchester Metropolitan University (2008-2009)
BSc (Hons) Zoology, University of Birmingham (2005-2008)

Supervisors:
Prof Kirsty Park (University of Stirling)
Dr Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor (University of Stirling)

Start Date: 1st October 2016

3B155 Cottrell Building
Biological & Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Natural Sciences
University of Stirling
Stirling, Scotland, FK9 4LA

Tel: +44 (0)1786 466370
fax: +(44) 1786 467843
email: h.l.taylorboyd1@stir.ac.uk

Research Project

โ€œInvestigating Species Assemblages, Activity Levels and Feeding Ecology of Chiroptera Species in Anthropogenic Landscapes in Zambiaโ€

The ecological benefits that nature brings are largely underappreciated as they are very difficult to quantify. With anthropogenic landscapes expanding, ecosystem services become increasingly important for our own activities. Agricultural activities are expected to provide for ever increasing human populations and have relied heavily on large areas of land and manmade chemicals to increase productivity. Alternative conservation farming techniques are becoming more popular as we realise the negative impacts of intensive practices on our environment, as well as ourselves.
Bats are known to contribute valuable insect pest control services around the world. They are a diverse taxa and can provide ecosystem services from which humans benefit.  Many bats provide insect pest control services to agricultural industries around the world, but the factors affecting these predator-prey interactions (e.g. pesticide use, landscape context) are still poorly understood. With rapid human population growth, threats to bats have increased with the risk that ecologically and economically important species may be lost before we can understand their importance; this is particularly true in Africa.

This research project aims to investigate the influence of farming practices on bats in Zambia, and their potential role in delivering ecosystem services.

Priority Research Questions:

  1. Are bat species richness and activity levels on agricultural land influenced by crop type and habitat variables?
  2. Are known insect pest species present in the diet of bats foraging on farmland?
  3. Do pesticide regimes influence bat occurrence and activity levels?

Funding

This is a self-funded project with grant contributions made by The Rufford Foundation

Background and research interests

I have a passion for wildlife conservation and ecology in general. For my Masters project I studied 'Movements of Cheetah and Leopard Released into Novel Environments in Namibia' and since then spent some time on research projects focussing on birds and bats. My work with a range of conservation organisations in the UK and Africa has lead me to a particular interest in bats, which has become my current research focus.

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