Erin Oberem

Masters Student

Bat diversity in the Albertine Rift

(with Drs Govan Pahad and Prince Kaleme)

Erin’s research documents bat diversity within a section of the Albertine Rift (a notably understudied biodiversity-rich region). The unique biology of Chiropterans (bats) make them good models with which to study and monitor anthropogenic effects on biodiversity; additionally, they are key species for ecosystem functioning. Despite their evidently important ecological role, there is very little information regarding bat diversity and distribution patterns across large parts of the world (although some regions are well studied).

Erin uses a barcoding approach (DNA-based identification) to document bat species present in the Albertine Rift, and combine this information with published species occurrence data to build ecological niche envelopes – this will allow for species identifications to be made and ecological niches to be projected, which may aid in generating predictions of the full range of species. Given the paucity of knowledge pertaining to African Chiropterans, this information might be instrumental to the conservation of these unique mammals.