Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 471–484 | Cite as

Research priorities for bat conservation in Southeast Asia: a consensus approach

  • Tigga Kingston
Original Paper


Southeast Asia is a critical area for biodiversity conservation; levels of species richness and endemism are among the highest in the world, but rapid land-use changes endanger much of the region’s fauna. Bats are a critical component of this diversity, comprising nearly a third of Southeast Asia’s mammal species and providing vital ecological and economic services. However, nearly half the species are of conservation concern and as many as 40% of bat species are predicted to be extinct by the end of this century if current deforestation rates persist. Conservation efforts are urgently needed, and the taxonomic continuity of Southeast Asia and the prevalence of major threats throughout suggest that a region-wide initiative could be an effective approach. The Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit (SEABCRU) was established in 2007 to provide an organizational framework to both accelerate the advancement of bat research, and to coordinate conservation efforts. The SEABCRU is an informal collaboration among institutes, NGOs and individuals and provides a web-based forum for the growing number of researchers and outreach workers to interact and coordinate activities. It was launched at the 1st International Southeast Asian Bat Conference in Thailand (May 2007), during which a forum was held to derive conservation research priorities using a consensus approach. Four priorities were identified by participants: flying fox conservation and monitoring, taxonomy, conservation of cave-dependent bats, and conservation of forest-dependent bats. Here I provide an overview of the rationales behind these priorities and list the specific recommendations for the actions identified.


Chiroptera Caves Conservation priority setting Deforestation Hunting Flying foxes Southeast Asia Taxonomy 



The establishment of the Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit was only made possible by the generous support of the British American Tobacco Biodiversity Partnership, and I would like to express my deepest thanks to the Partnership and their biodiversity partners Earthwatch Institute. Consensus priority setting is by nature a group effort and I would like to thank all the participants of the SEABCRU Forum held at the 1st International South East Asian Bat Conference for their contribution to the process, as well as Chutamas Satasook and the students and staff of the Prince of Songkla University for making the conference and forum such a success. Although the origins of the SEABCRU were inspired by discussions with many colleagues, the following have been instrumental in the founding and running of the SEABCRU: Paul Bates, James Burton, David Kingston, Paul Laird, Tammy Mildenstein, Paul Racey, Matthew Struebig, Danny Squire, and Allyson Walsh.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA

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