Biosis zoologist Kayla Asplet had the opportunity to showcase her research at the recent Australasian Bat Society Conference, held at Western Sydney University.

Kayla, from our Wollongong office, presented her honours thesis ‘Investigating the sensitivity of Myotis macropus (Large-footed Myotis) to heavy-metal pollution in urban waterways in Sydney, New South Wales’ as part of the scientific programme’s poster session.

The research involved using acoustic detectors to examine activity levels of the Myotis macropus at 24 urban creek sites across Sydney, each with varying degrees of historic heavy metal contamination. Heavy metals were also measured in creek sediments and potential prey.

Results showed a positive correlation between creek condition and M. macropus activity, a negative association with M. macropus activity and increasing heavy metal concentrations in prey, as well as elevated levels of heavy metals in M.macropus fur samples from urban and peri-urban sites. These findings demonstrated that M. macropus is exposed to heavy metals in urban Sydney creeks which is likely to be a key threat to the conservation of the species. Future research should investigate prey longevity (exposure time), physiological responses (i.e. hair cortisol concentrations to determine the degree of stress), population health and dynamics in response to heavy metal loadings in response to heavy metal loadings and dietary composition on M.macropus individuals within these impacted areas.Australia is home to over 90 species of bat, ten of which are listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). More research into bat conservation is desperately needed to steady the decline of these secretive and somewhat misunderstood mammals.

Congratulations to Kayla for her important contributions to bat research and conservation.