CONSERVATION BIOLOGY OF OKINAWA'S RARE FOREST BATS
The ecologies of the Ryukyu tube-nosed bat (Murina ryukyuana) and Yanbaru whiskered bat (Myotis yanbarensis) have received little research attention and are thus largely unknown. Therefore, it is unclear how best to conserve these small forest bats. Both species seem to be largely solitary tree-dwelling bats that roost in leaves or tree holes, making them elusive and difficult to study.
Discovered in the Yanbaru Forest of Okinawa Island, these two bat species are only found on three islands: Okinawa, Tokunoshima, and Amami-Oshima. The Ryukyu tube-nosed bat (below left) is considered Endangered, and the Yanbaru whiskered bat (below right) as Critically Endangered, by both the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Japanese Ministry of Environment.
In February 2018, we managed to capture the Yanbaru whiskered bat, reporting it for the first time on Okinawa since the species was discovered 22 years ago. Through a combination of capture surveys and automated recording devices, we've been gradually improving our understanding of local bat distributions. The Yanbaru whiskered bat seems to be severely range restricted and one of our main goals is to find out why. Using tiny radio transmitters, we have been tracking the roosting habits of both species in search of clues as to the causes of their rarity.
Study kindly supported by: