Museum staff led by MNH curator for small and volant mammals Prof. Phillip A. Alviola held a training last February 3-7 2014 on cave bat surveying for  cave guides and park rangers of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, members of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development and selected personnel from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

According to Prof. Alviola, the park's management requested the Museum's mammal group to help them conserve the biological diversity of bats in the underground river complex. "We trained them in the aspects of bat survey, identification, biology, population count, and roost mapping," said Prof. Alviola.

Surveying and identification is done as a basic component in the proper conservation of bats and their management and lets the park managers know how many species are present in the area.

Ecologically, bats are important in sustaining the rich biodiversity of the park. "They have roles in seed dispersal, pollination and insect control," said Alviola who also delivered a lecture on the subject.

"So park stakeholders should also be familiar how and when they breed and where do they nest," he added.

James Alvarez helps participants handle the captured bats.

On the other hand, research associate James DV. Alvarez talked on the aspects of population count, roost mapping and cave photography.

MNH technicians Edison A. Cosico and Eduardo Eres provided technical support to the trainers and trainees in all of the activities.

"Basically, we use several methods to count and estimate the population of bats in a specific area, one of which is time lapse photography," Alvarez said.

"We also take photos of located roosts and reflect them on a prepared cave map; with this we can designate biologically important zones in the cave complex," he continued. 

During the training, the ten participants who attended were able to set up mist nets and use of hoop nets to collect bats. They were also able to conduct emergence count through still photography to estimate the colony size at the park, and locate and photograph and map out bat roosts.

The participants were also taught basic bat handling and identification using a dichotomous key. 

Six species were captured from the Puerto Princesa Underground River cave, including Rhinolophus creaghi, a new record in the cave. 

"We estimate that bats in the cave number anywhere from 70,000 to 73,000 but the figure can definitely go higher," Alviola reported.


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