Science and Research

We’re always keen to help students who are interested in using the bat boxes as part of their postgraduate research, or would like to get more experience handling bats, so feel free to get in touch with us!

Here are a range of research articles generated through bat-box monitoring at our four sites in Melbourne:

Griffiths, SR, Lumsden, LF, Bender, R, Irvine, R, Godinho, LN, Visintin, C, Eastick, DL, Robert, KA and Lentini, PE (in press) Long-term monitoring suggests bat boxes may alter local bat community structureAustralian Mammalogy. DOI: 10.1071/AM18026

Griffiths, SR, Lentini, PE, Semmens, K, Watson, SJ, Lumsden, LF, and Robert, KA (2018) Chainsaw-carved cavities better mimic the thermal properties of natural tree hollows than nest boxes and log hollowsForests 9, 235. DOI: 10.3390/f9050235

Griffiths, S. R., Bender, R., Godinho, L. N., Lentini P. E., Lumsden L. F., and Robert, K. A. (2017). Bat boxes are not a silver bullet conservation tool. Mammal Review 47(4): 261-265. DOI: 10.1111/mam.12097

Griffiths, Stephen R., Rowland Jessica A., Briscoe Natalie J., Lentini Pia E., Handasyde Kathrine A., Lumsden Linda F., and Robert, Kylie A. (2017). Surface reflectance drives nest box temperature profiles and thermal suitability for target wildlife. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0176951. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176951

Godinho, Lisa N., Lumsden, Linda F., Coulson, Graeme, and Griffiths, Stephen R. (2015). Network analysis reveals cryptic seasonal patterns of association in Gould’s wattled bats (Chalinolobus gouldii) roosting in bat-boxes. Behaviour, 152(15), 2079–2105. DOI: 10.1163/1568539X-00003315.

Lentini, P.E., Bird, T., Griffiths, S.R., Godinho, L. and Wintle, B.A. (2015). A global synthesis of survival estimates for microbats. Biology Letters 8(11), DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0371.

Godinho, L.N., Cripps, J.K., Coulson, G.and Lumsden, L.F. (2013). The effect of ectoparasites on the grooming behaviour of Gould’s wattled bat (Chalinolobus gouldii): an experimental studyActa Chiropterologica 15(2), 463–472.

Evans, L.N. and Lumsden, L.F. (2011). A comparison of the roosting behaviour of Gould’s wattled bats (Chalinolobus gouldii) using bat boxes and tree hollows. In D. Lunney, L.F. Lumsden and B.S. Law (Eds), The biology and conservation of Australasian bats, pp. 288–297. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Sydney.

Bender, R. (2011). Bat roost boxes at Organ Pipes National Park, Victoria: seasonal and annual usage patterns. In D. Lunney, L.F. Lumsden and B.S. Law (Eds), The biology and conservation of Australasian bats, pp. 443–459. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Sydney.

Irvine, R, and Bender, R. (1995). Initial results from bat roosting boxes at Organ Pipes National park. Victorian Naturalist 112(5), 212–218.


Why the program?

Globally, tree hollows represent a vital roosting and breeding resource for wildlife (Manning et al. 2012). In Australia alone, there are over 300 species which are dependent on hollows (Gibbons & Lindenmayer 2002), including many microbats. Microbats form a large component of the mammalian fauna (Altringham 2011) and most species are insectivorous, so they provide an invaluable ecosystem service in the form of pest control for both agricultural production and human health (Cleveland et al. 2006; Boyles et al. 2011). Hence, it is in the interests of the public to ensure the ongoing viability of bat populations.

Unfortunately, hollows are rapidly being lost from the landscape through agricultural intensification and habitat clearing (Fischer et al. 2009). When Eucalypts are cleared, it takes planted trees around 100 years to form cavities (Gibbons et al. 2000), so restoration efforts will not offset the loss of hollow-bearing trees (Vesk & Mac Nally 2006). Nest boxes present a solution to the problem of time lags in hollow development, and are a commonly-used conservation tool for bats worldwide (Brittingham & Williams 2000; Kerth et al. 2001). However, it’s still unclear whether the boxes we use for conservation can support diverse and viable communities of microbats or just a few species which are well-adapted to disturbed habitats, and if the internal thermal environment actually mimics that of natural hollows. This is what we’re hoping to explore through the program.

Altringham, J., 2011. Bats: from evolution to conservation. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Boyles, J.G., Cryan, P.M., McCracken, G.F., Kunz, T.H., 2011. Economic importance of bats in agriculture. Science (80-. ). 332, 41–42.

Brittingham, M.C., Williams, L.M., 2000. Bat boxes as alternative roosts for displaced bat maternity colonies. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 28, 197–207.

Cleveland, C.J., Betke, M., Federico, P., Frank, J.D., Hallam, T.G., Horn, J., Lopez, J.D., McCracken, G.F., Medellin, R.A., Moreno-Valdez, A., Sansone, C.G., Westbrook, J.K., Kunz, T.H., 2006. Economic value of the pest control service provided by Brazilian free-tailed bats in south-central Texas. Front. Ecol. Environ. 4, 238–243.

Fischer, J., Stott, J., Zerger, A., Warren, G., Sherren, K., Forrester, R.I., 2009. Reversing a tree regeneration crisis in an endangered ecoregion. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 106, 10386–10391.

Gibbons, P., Lindenmayer, D.B., Barry, S.C., Tanton, M.T., 2000. Hollow formation in eucalypts from temperate forests in southeastern Australia. Pacific Conserv. Biol. 6, 218.

Gibbons, P., Lindenmayer, D., 2002. Tree hollows and wildlife conservation in Australia. CSIRO.

Kerth, G., Weissmann, K., König, B., 2001. Day roost selection in female Bechstein’s bats (Myotis bechsteinii): a field experiment to determine the influence of roost temperature. Oecologia 126, 1–9.

Manning, A.D., Gibbons, P., Fischer, J., Oliver, D.L., Lindenmayer, D.B., 2013. Hollow futures? Tree decline, lag effects and hollow-dependent species. Anim. Conserv. 16, 395–403.

Vesk, P.A., Mac Nally, R., 2006. The clock is ticking—revegetation and habitat for birds and arboreal mammals in rural landscapes of southern Australia. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 112, 356–366.


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