The Australasian Bat Society Newsletter, Number 39, November 2012 A batty adventure in Papua New Guinea Julie Broken-Brow and Catherine Hughes University of Queensland firstname.lastname@example.org Catherine.email@example.com Two students venture out into the wilderness of Papua New Guinea in search of microbats, not knowing what to expect – it was quite an adventure. Six hours drive east of Port Moresby lies Cloudy Bay, a low lying rainforest area that is sustainably logged. Our mission was to collect reference calls from as many bat species as possible and determine the effect of sustainable logging on the microbat communities. Above: One of the creek line harp traps which caught Hipposideros diadema, Macroglossus minimus and Miniopterus magnate. Opposite: Julie explains how to identify a microbat to our local helpers. Both photos taken by Catherine Hughes. Our first surprise was the drive to Cloudy Bay; 3 hours of intense motion sickness were followed by a further 3 hours of what could only be described as death defying rally car driving (in a Land Cruiser). Winding dirt roads (of less than ideal conditions) were navigated at an average speed of 130 km/hr! Needless to say; we discovered that the best cure for motion sickness is sheer terror. Once we arrived, the hunt for the bats was on. We began harp trapping on the first night, generally placing our harp traps in creek lines or along ‘skid’ tracks (tracks made by the logging vehicles which were almost exactly harp trap width). Every two nights we moved the harp trap to a new location and were rewarded with new species at almost every site. We also attempted to mist net – however this was met with fairly low success rates. We suspected it was because the nets were not high enough. Overall we caught Myotis moluccarum, Pipistrellus papuanus, Pipistrellus wattsi, Pipistrellus angulatus, Miniopterus australis, Miniopterus magnater, Hipposideros diadema, Nyctophilus microtis, Macroglossus minimus, Syconycteris australis and… a mystery longeared bat! The long-eared bat appeared to be a Pharotis sp., however species level identification needs to be carried out in Australia. If it is Pharotis - 16 -
The Australasian Bat Society Newsletter, Number 39, November 2012 imogene, this is the first verified specimen found since 1890. The acoustic detection survey was conducted with our best attempts of camouflaging the detectors. However the keen eyes of the locals weren’t fooled, and before long one of our detectors went ‘missing’. We put out messages with our local helpers to explain that the detectors belonged to us and we needed them for the rest of the survey. By the end of the day our missing detector had been returned. Apparently the village women “thought it was a bomb”, so they - 17 - had taken it home. We inspected the detector and found all the settings changed – apparently they were trying to defuse it! Papua New Guinea has been such an adventure and, despite the extremely long hours, we would do it all again. We have no doubts that the unexplored territories of PNG contain many more surprises for bat ecologists. For more info contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com Adorable little Pipistrellus wattsi caught in forest logged 6 years ago (Photo by Julie Broken-Brow).