nrc

Assessing species richness, diversity and distribution of bats and their role in pest control in selected tea plantations in Sri Lanka

NRC Grant:  15-111

Dr. Amani Mannakkara
University of Ruhuna
Department of Agric. Biology
Faculty of Agriculture
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Area of Research:Entomology
Status:Ongoing

 

objectives

General Objective

To assess the role of insectivorous bats in pest control in selected tea plantations.

Specific Objective

I. To record the species richness, diversity and abundance of bats in and around tea plantations,

II. To identify and record the species which forage exclusively in tea plantations,

III. To identify the species which could effectively act as biological control agents of insect pests by analysing their diet composition,

IV. To determine the exposure of pesticides by bat species which forage in different foraging guilds

V. To carry out awareness programs on the conservation of bats by highlighting the ecosystem services provided by them, among planters and local community

To prepare colour posters/brochures on bats in tea plantations in Sri Lanka using high quality photographs of bats

overview

Tea is a major plantation crop in Sri Lanka and wide a range of insect species have been recorded as causing varying degrees of damage. Application of pesticides is one of the common practices employed by planters to control those tea pests which is costly, causes health hazards to workers, destroys many other species which are not pests and also pollute the environment. Moreover, there is a high demand for pesticide free tea both in local and world market. Consequently it is vitally important to move towards biological pest control methods, which are cost effective, environmentally friendly and result in producing a healthy product. Bats are the primary controllers of nocturnal aerial insects in many habitats. However, economical value of this pest control service has not been addressed by any published work in Sri Lanka. Further, a detailed study on the role of insectivorous bats in relation to pest control has not been attempted on Tea (Camellia sinensis) anywhere in the world. In the proposed study we wish to investigate whether bats can be used as a biological pest control agent in Tea plantations in Sri Lanka. Further we also wish to study the degree of pesticide accumulation in bats that forage in tea plantations. Field sampling of insectivorous bats, collecting their droppings will be done representing six major tea growing regions and 30 agro-ecological zones in Sri Lanka to record the bat species which forage predominantly or exclusively in tea plantations and identify those species which could effectively act as biological control agents of insect pests by analyzing their diet composition.