Project update 21, publication update 19: Project Pteropus delivers results!

Sheema completed her PhD in Ecology last November, when she successfully defended her thesis at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. Now comes the good part: sharing the results, data and information from her research! We’re happy to announce that 2 new papers from her thesis just got published this month.

Fruit bats are important ecosystem service providers, pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds over long distances. Instead of protecting these useful flying mammals however, humans are threatening their survival through hunting and persecution.

Finding out what flying foxes eat is a first step towards discovering what flowers they pollinate and what seeds they disperse. This will help strengthen the cause to promote their protection. Project Pteropus started investigating this question in 2015, and now, the results of the analysis are finally out! We’ve made a first start towards answering the question of ‘What do the Tioman Island flying foxes eat?’

Identifying flying fox food plants by collecting and analysing droppings

PeerJ image Continue reading

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Project update 19, photo update 11, video update 6: Project Pteropus phase 1 in review

sheema_esteban_tekek

It’s definitely been a crazy, roller coaster ride for Project Pteropus so far! Time flies when you’re having fun, and before we knew it, we’re already in the third and final year of Sheema‘s PhD. We’re due to start a tiny bit more of fieldwork over the next 3 months, then everything needs to be wrapped up pronto as she’ll be on her way to spend 6 months in Paris this June 🙂

So what has the project achieved so far? Some pretty exciting stuff, as it turns out. Almost all the data are in already, but some still need a bit of time to be analysed. We’ve decided to summarise our results so far into an interim report, which is why you’re getting this bumper post that serves as a compilation of updates, photos AND videos all at the same time! 😀

Also, HUGE thanks to Bat Conservation International for awarding us a small grant in September last year. Without this funding we definitely wouldn’t have been able to achieve as much as we have, and we’re deeply grateful. Click on the BCI logo below to find out more about applying for their small grants:

BCI logo

Meanwhile, here’s what we’ve found out up to this point (if you’re just interested in the images and don’t need to read through the information, just scroll down further!): Continue reading

Toolbox update 6: Methods for studying pollen

Team Pteropus would like to share a few helpful tips and protocols on how to collect and study pollen. This isn’t just useful for budding botanists, plant ecologists or beekepers! It’s also relevant for wildlife ecologists who want to study the diet of animals that feed on flowers. It’s a good way to identify plant species in animal diet, as different types of plants have different, distinctive pollen shapes and sizes. In order to do this, you’ll need to start by collecting pollen samples directly from the flowers themselves, to build up your very own pollen reference library.

The pollen grains of the passion flower (Passiflora sp.) have a very distinctive 'tennis ball' shape
The pollen grains of the passion flower (Passiflora sp.) have a very distinctive ‘tennis ball’ shape

This latest Biologist’s Toolbox post comes to you all the way from San Jose courtesy of Esteban, who shares with us the pollen extraction protocol he was trained to use by his university. Although it’s also possible (and preferable) to use a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) for pollen studies, this can be complicated and expensive. This protocol provides you with a simple and easy-to-adapt method to be used with a normal light microscope, and which you can easily execute yourself.

According to Esteban: Continue reading