We were fortunate to be invited along to help with the ongoing research in Trinidad, coordinated by the Trinibats team Geoffrey Gomes and Daniel Hargreaves. We were also very lucky to have Merlin Tuttle and his team from Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation join us on the trip; Merlin openly shared his vast knowledge and experience of working with bats and conservation over the last six decades.
Trinidad is home to sixty-eight species of bat – four times the number found in the UK – ranging from nectivorous bats such as Anoura geoffroyi up to the world’s largest carnivorous bat, Vampyrum spectrum. Over the two week period forty-four species were caught, processed, and released.
The star of the show on the first evening was a sub-adult male Vampyrum spectrum weighing in at 150g. In fact, it was the first bat in the net on an otherwise relatively quiet night! This species is rare and not often caught, so it was an incredible opportunity to see it up close. After taking biometric measurements Daniel Whitby proceeded to radio-tag the individual, hoping to find an additional colony to the one which was found in 2015. The roost was found the next day, with a new colony consisting of up to five bats recorded during filming using infra-red cameras that evening. An additional roost was found the following day, making a total of 3 known Vampyrum roosts in the area which will be subject to long-term monitoring. These are the first Vampyrum roosts discovered in over 20 years, so it is an important discovery with regard to facilitating the monitoring of this species and protection of these roosts.
Over the course of the week teams would use infra-red cameras to get emergence counts for the Vampyrum roosts, staying out until dawn to document behaviour such as feeding / prey selection and observe social interactions.
For more information on the expeditions including field reports from previous years’ research, and to get involved with the research in Trinidad, visit www.trinibats.com.
There will be more blog posts to follow documenting our part in the Trinibats 2016 trip so make sure to check back again soon!