The migration of fruit bats
Icarus will help to elucidate the complex role of fruit bats in ecosystems
Fruit bats are extremely mobile. On their journey from their sleeping to eating locations, they often cover hundreds of kilometres. They carry pollen and seeds over large distances and therefore contribute significantly to the pollination and proliferation of plants. They therefore play a key role in the natural renewal of forests and in human nutrition. They are nevertheless also a source of deadly infectious diseases, such as SARS, rabies and Ebola.
Many details on the ecological benefits and disease transmission still remain unclear. Researchers also know little about the impact of hunting and the destruction of their habitat on their population numbers.
Using the data gathered by Icarus, scientists are aiming to establish the importance of fruit bats to ecosystems and the spread of diseases. Local authorities and global decision-making bodies can then use the findings obtained to ensure that humans and animals continue to benefit from one another.
Animals: Fruit bats
Location: West Africa
Contact: Dina Dechmann and Martin Wikelski, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Konstanz, Germany