The study to be undertaken Dr Nurul ‘Ain of the School of Biological Sciences, USM focusses on the insectivorous bats of the Gunung Keriang area of Kedah. It aims to ascertain whether the insectivorous bats which roost in the nearby limestones caves are consuming species that are known to be pests in rice fields.
The research methodology involves documenting seasonal insect abundance and pest availability at different phases of paddy growth. Faecal samples of bats will be analysed to understand resource partitioning among the bats of Gunung Keriang.
The research is expected to provide conclusive scientific evidence that bats do provide essential ecosystem services in Malaysian rice agriculture. Consequently, maintaining bat roosts would demonstrate an ecologically-friendly method for controlling pests that helps increase crop production by lowering the impact of pests. The findings would also be economically important. Reducing the use of chemical pesticides in ricefields can slow down pesticide resistance among pests and helps MADA and other relevant authorities from spending money for pest control. This would also reduce the harmful impacts of pesticides on the environment.
In addition, the study also has a social component. It will document the awareness level of the local farming community on bats. The findings of this study will provide information to indicate the need for future educational programmes in this area.
This study fits the Habitat’s theme of understanding the ecosystem services provided by wildlife wherein the presence of the bats will help to reduce the amount of pest in the rice field without using any chemical pesticides. This study could also lead to the reduction of harmful chemical pesticides in the environment.