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Home arrow Environment arrow Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of Bats in a Changing World

Quantifying Impact and Value Across Crops and Biomes

Additional valuation of bats' ecosystem services could provide both guidance for bat management priorities in agricultural areas and compelling rationales for conservation. However, valuation efforts have focused almost exclusively on commodity crops quantified along the single dimension of monetary value. Most of the world's smallholder farmers focus on staple crop cultivation and may not have the means to substitute the manufactured capital of pesticides and GM crops for bat predation. As Wanger et al. (2014) demonstrate, valuation based on dollars of damage prevented misses many of the criteria most important to subsistence farmers seeking food security. There is an urgent need to better understand the importance of bat ecosystem services across a variety of crop types, regions, and management approaches. Research also highlights the importance of better quantifying the fluctuations in bat service provision across years and seasons, in relation to population fluctuations, reproductive phenology, and agricultural management (Lopez-Hoffman et al. 2014; Wanger et al. 2014; Maas et al. 2015). This level of local, nuanced knowledge is key to managing pest suppression services in such a way that they are actively used as alternatives to agrochemical inputs and GM crops, and to contribute to more biodiversity-friendly and sustainable land-use practices (Tilman et al. 2002; Maas et al. 2015).

Changing Attitudes and Behaviors Toward Bats in the Developing World

Although the conservation of tropical biodiversity is highly beneficial to global society (Rands et al. 2010), ultimately it is the attitudes and beliefs of farmers and other rural populations that will determine its fate (Brechin et al. 2002; Tscharntke et al. 2012). Throughout the world, bats are subject to misconceptions and poor public perceptions (see Kingston and Barlow, this volume Chap. 17). However, exposure to environmental education can significantly decrease negative attitudes toward bats (López del Toro et al. 2009; Prokop et al. 2009; Reid 2013). These results suggest that reducing bat disservices, conducting environmental education, and building local valuation of beneficial bats could work in concert to improve conservation outcomes. As much as there is a critical need to manage agricultural landscapes to conserve bats, there is a parallel need to understand the local drivers of attitudes toward bats and to develop culturally appropriate, evidence-based interventions that encourage farmers to sustainably manage bat populations and other biodiversity associated with ecosystem services and ecosystem resilience.

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