Rachael Cooper-Bohannon

PhD Research Student

BSc (Hons) Zoology, University of Bristol (2006)

Supervisors:
Dr Kirsty Park, University of Stirling (UK)
Professor Gareth Jones, University of Bristol (UK)

Collaborators: 
Dr Fenton (Woody) Cotterill, University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Associate Professor Ara Monadjem, University of Swaziland (Swaziland)
Dr Corrie Schoeman, University of KwaZulu Natal (South Africa)
Associate Professor Peter Taylor, University of Venda (South Africa)

Start Date: 1st September 2010

mobile tel: +44 (0)774 894 6730
tel: +44 (0)1786 467799
fax: +(44) 1786 467843 
email: Rachael Cooper-Bohannon

Research Project

The distribution and conservation of cave-dwelling bats in southern and central Africa

Determining a species’ distribution is essential for any ecological or conservation research; such as understanding the implications of anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity. As with many other taxa, bats are being increasingly threatened by human activity. Species distribution modelling can be used as an important conservation tool to predict suitable habitats and environmental conditions for focal species, particularly when used in ecologically diverse areas where there is little biological data.

In this study, ecological niche models will be used to predict the current potential distributions of focal cave-dwelling bat species in geographic space. Fieldwork will be carried out to ‘ground truth’ model outputs by surveying areas predicted to be optimal, marginal or unsuitable. Extrapolative models will also be generated to forecast range shifts in focal bat distributions over time in response to climate change and habitat conversions, using a number of different scenarios and variables (e.g. annual temperature; 1 Rebelo et al. 2010).

Funding acknowledgements

I have been awarded a Horizon University Studentship from the University of Stirling.
My field work is being kindly funded by The Rufford Small Grants Foundation.

Sponsorship acknowledgement

Pettersson Elektronik AB has generously provided me with a D240x.


Southern African collaborators

Our collaborating researchers have extensive experience of working throughout southern Africa, are authors of the new book ‘Bats of Southern and Central Africa’, and have many contacts with statutory and non-statutory authorities. As part of this project, we will work with local bat group and the bat working group within the Endangered Wildlife Trust, and wilderness schools specialising in wildlife education (including Lapalala wilderness school www.lapalala.com

Dr Fenton (Woody) Cotterill, formerly Curator of Mammals, Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, is a Research Fellow within the Africa Earth Observatory Network (AEON), Departments of Geological Sciences and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town. An evolutionary biologist, he has published on ecology and systematics of African bats; and biogeography landscape evolution in southern and central Africa. His studies of African vertebrates in museum collections, worldwide, alongside fieldwork across central Africa, are detailed in 53 publications (mainly on bats) that include descriptions of three new species of mammals.

E-mail: fenton.cotterill@uct.ac.za
Website: http://sites.google.com/site/fpdcotterill/

Associate Professor Ara Monadjem works in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Swaziland where he has been lecturing zoology for the past 17 years. His research has taken him across much of Africa. His academic interests are mostly centred around ecology and conservation, with a special focus on small mammals and birds of prey. He has published widely, including 4 books and 63 scientific articles.

E-mail: ara@uniswacc.uniswa.sz

Dr M Corrie Schoeman is an evolutionary/community ecologist. He is a lecturer at the Biological & Conservation Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and has published on the ecology and evolutionary biology of African bats.

E-mail: schoemanc@ukzn.ac.za

Associate Professor Peter Taylor has recently taken up a permanent research position within the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Venda. Peter previously worked for 21 years as Curator of Mammals and then Acting Director at Durban Natural Science Museum. Peter is also an Honorary Lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, a co-founder of the Bat Interest Group of KwaZulu-Natal, an invited member of the IUCN’s Chiroptera Specialist Group, a Council member of both the Zoological Society of Southern Africa (ZSSA) (currently President), and the Southern African Society for Systematic Biology (SASSB). Recently Peter was appointed to the Board of Directors of the International Federation of Mammalogists (IFM). He has authored or co-authored 85 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, two scientific books and over 20 popular science articles. Peter wrote the original book on Bats of Southern Africa (2000). He is a co-author of a new synthesis of taxonomic and biogeographical knowledge of the region's bat fauna (co-authored with Associate Professor Ara Monadjem, Dr Woody Cotterill and Dr Corrie Schoeman).

E-mail: peter.taylor@univen.ac.za

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