Biology Fieldwork on bats.
At the Temple Cave
View with and without the main lights and observe any differences in behaviour.
Cave abiotic conditions. Compare the light, temperature and humidity conditions inside and outside the cave. Which do you think has the greatest variation over the day and over the year?
Roosting bat colony. This colony is now much depleted due to regular disturbance by groups of tourists. Estimate numbers and note the reaction to disturbance. can you see any young (clinging to their mother's fur)?
Fecal analysis. Trying to identify the type of diet. Identification of insects from fragments in bat faeces is a difficult and highly skilled procedure. However we can assess the importance of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) in the bats’ diet by looking at the amount of wing scales in the faeces.
Observation of cave ecology. Search for invertebrates living in the cave. Describe, and photograph any findings. Numbers and type of invertebrates seen
At the main cave
Asian wrinkle lipped bats - these are insectivorous "free-tailed" bats
The population of this bat colony is probably between 800,000 and 1 million individuals. How would you try to measure bat numbers?
Predator numbers and species. Several raptors specialise in preying on bats. These include sparrow hawks, buzzards and barn owls. there is also a "bat-hawk" but it's range is supposed to be limited to peninsular Thailand. There is also a specialist bat eating snake called Ridley's cave racer (or Beauty rat snake)
Analysis of bat flight patterns. Why do the bats leave the cave like this. What is the advantage to individual bats?
Can you construct a food web for the cave ecosystem? Where are the producers? What level are the bats on? What is the energy source for the crickets and beetles in the cave?