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Tuesday, January 30 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Poster Display. Assessing Bat Diets via Guano Metagenomics

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AUTHORS: T.R. West, M.L. Niemiller, M. Safford, T. C. Hohoff, and M.A. Davis, Illinois Natural History Survey

ABSTRACT: Earth is facing a rapid decline of biodiversity within its natural systems, which has critical implications on ecosystem functions and services. Successful conservation efforts to slow this decline rely on the ability to monitor species and understand their ecological role. Such efforts are often hindered by a lack of knowledge regarding arcane interactions. Bats provide several key regulating and supporting ecosystem services, including insect suppression and nutrient cycling. However, the trophic interactions occurring, both in natural and in anthropogenically-impacted systems, remain largely obscured. Exploring the variation in bat diet can also aid in the understanding of their foraging ecology, which will steer future management. Emerging methodologies and technologies are providing new windows into these otherwise opaque questions. The Illinois Bat Conservation Program (IBCP) is a statewide research, monitoring, and outreach program focused on gaining insights into bat populations to direct better conservation management. Two emerging techniques utilized by the IBCP, eDNA and metagenomics, are useful tools for the large-scale monitoring of biodiversity and ecological interactions. In this study, guano samples were taken from mist-netted bats and subjected to next generation sequencing to ascertain their diet. We also coupled traditional invertebrate sampling at mist net sites to assess the invertebrate prey available to bats in both natural and anthropogenically impacted areas. Preliminary results have revealed key insights into the prey base of bats in Illinois, as well as interspecific differences in diet and yield important information for the development of adaptive management strategies to conserve bats into the future.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 6:00pm - 9:00pm CST
Ballroom C & Foyer