The executive board of the Rainforest Biodiversity Group recently took a work trip to Costa Rica to check up on projects and to meet with partners. While visiting with our partners at Cinco Ceibas in the town of Pangola, we had the pleasure of meeting Kate Cleary, a PhD student in the joint doctoral program between the University of Idaho (UI) and CATIE in Costa Rica.
For her PhD, Kate is studying the ecological impacts of agricultural intensification on Phyllostomid bats in the San Juan-La Selva Biological Corridor of northern Costa Rica. Over the past century native forests in many parts of the world have been converted to agriculture to meet the needs of growing human populations.
overarching goal of Kate’s dissertation research is to answer the following research questions: 1) will forest patches embedded in pineapple have the same levels of bat species richness, diversity, and relative abundance as found in patches embedded in other agriculture types and in continuous forest? and 2) for populations of a focal bat species, Carollia castanea, will genetic diversity within and gene flow between forest patches in pineapple be the same as in continuous forest?
Together, these questions address the effects of changes in biodiversity, system patterns (genetic diversity), and system processes (gene flow) caused by forest fragmentation and expanding pineapple plantations. To answer these questions Kate is currently collecting data in forest patches around the communities of El Roble and Pangola.
While at Pangola, we had the pleasure of going out with Kate and her field assistants and observing while they mist-netted bats and collected data.