Agro-ecology and epidemiology: focusing on the diet of the Reunion Free-tailed bat

The objective of the MOLOSS-EAT project is to study the diet of Reunion Free-tailed bats within an agro-ecological and epidemiological context. This project bridges research conducted on the eco-epidemiology of bats in the UMR PIMIT and the understanding of Réunion's endemic insect fauna and agro-ecological pest management in the UMR PVBMT.

This project includes three research questions:
- Characterize the composition and diversity of the Reunion Free-tailed bat's diet on a island-wide scale, and particularly measure the relative importance of crop pests and disease vectors to humans.
- Determine if there is a seasonal variation in the diet and according to gender. We will particularly test if females during the breeding season (southern summer) specialize in specific and/or larger prey in response to higher energy demands.
- Test if habitat modification influences the Little Mastiff Bat's diet. The hypotheses are that (i) agricultural areas should reduce diet diversity by favoring the consumption of pest insects, and (ii) urban environments should favor the consumption of mosquito species associated with humans.

At the end of this project, we will have concrete information about the diet of Reunion Free-tailed bats. The results will improve our fundamental knowledge about the biology and behavior of this protected species. We will also discuss the practical importance of this bat as a natural regulator of insect populations in Réunion, some of which may be of interest in human and plant health. This project aims not only to provide conservation managers with key data on the biology of the Reunion Free-tailed bat but also to enrich our understanding of trophic networks at the scale of agrosystems and natural ecosystems.

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Project duration : 2019
Geographical area : Reunion Island
Funding : University of Reunion Island (BIOST Federation)
Global budget : 18 590€
Amount for PIMIT : 14 890€
PIMIT coordinator : Muriel DIETRICH (PI)
Partners :
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