The remarkable “Adaptable Bat”: a challenge to ecological concepts in the management of Australian forest bats
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Harry Parnaby, Elery Hamilton-Smith, 2004. "The remarkable “Adaptable Bat”: a challenge to ecological concepts in the management of Australian forest bats", Conservation of Australia's Forest Fauna, Daniel Lunney
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The scientific merit of two opposing themes toward the conservation of Australian forest dwelling microchiroptera over the past four decades is reviewed. The initial theme throughout the 1960's and 1970's was of a vulnerable and threatened bat fauna - a contemporary view for which there is strong evidence. An opposing view, here termed the Adaptable Bat syndrome, emerged in the 1980's. Rather than being of conservation concern, bats were portrayed as resilient, adaptable ecological generalists that could not “reasonably” be considered at risk from human impacts. The Adaptable Bat is an unsophisticated perspective that has been utilised as an ideological counter-attack against societal concern with escalating environmental destruction. This perspective was adopted by some management agencies and many bat workers. It is a modified off-shoot of a more general assertion of the infinite resilience of nature and represents a societal mind set that can be described as the utilitarian ideology, i.e. the dominance of resource utilisation above all other considerations.
The chances of the long-term survival of bat fauna in forests used by the logging industry appear to be bleak because the ideology of the Adaptable Bat has dominated the agenda of biological assessments of the management, threat status and general biology of Australian bats for nearly 20 years. Perhaps the most significant lesson from the Adaptable Bat syndrome is that, like many issues in environmental management, the conservation of Australia's forest bats has everything to do with cultural, political and corporate influences, and very little to do with biological “facts”.