Southeast Asia is a critical area for biodiversity conservation; levels of species richness and endemism are among the highest in the world, but rapid land-use changes endanger much of the region's fauna. Bats are a critical component of this diversity, comprising nearly a third of Southeast Asia's mammal species and providing vital ecological and economic services. However, nearly half the species are of conservation concern and as many as 40% of bat species are predicted to be extinct by the end of this century if current deforestation rates persist. Conservation efforts are urgently needed, and the taxonomic continuity of Southeast Asia and the prevalence of major threats throughout suggest that a region-wide initiative could be an effective approach. The Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit (SEABCRU) was established in 2007 to provide an organizational framework to both accelerate the advancement of bat research, and to coordinate conservation efforts. The SEABCRU is an informal collaboration among institutes, NGOs and individuals and provides a web-based forum for the growing number of researchers and outreach workers to interact and coordinate activities. It was launched at the 1st International Southeast Asian Bat Conference in Thailand (May 2007), during which a forum was held to derive conservation research priorities using a consensus approach. Four priorities were identified by participants: flying fox conservation and monitoring, taxonomy, conservation of cave-dependent bats, and conservation of forest-dependent bats. Here I provide an overview of the rationales behind these priorities and list the specific recommendations for the actions identified.
- Conservation priority setting
- Flying foxes
- Southeast Asia