At BiMa-Lab, Bird and Mammal Evolution, Systematics and Ecology Lab, we study several aspects of vertebrate evolution, systematics, ecology and conservation. Currently, our projects focus on factors affecting patterns of diversity in ecosystems, assemblages, populations and species traits, and the scales of approach go from local to global. Most of our work is applied to ecosystem and animal conservation and management, always keeping in mind the human dimensions of wildlife, under a logic of sustainability. We are based at the Department of Zoology of the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

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Bats and COVID-19: villains or victims?

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, bats are being pointed as responsible for its origin, even without solid scientific evidence. In this opinion piece, Maria João Ramos Pereira, Enrico Bernard and Ludmilla M.S. Aguiar discuss the most updated information on bats and COVID-19 and argue that bats should not be blamed for a disease they are not responsible for. Bats should be seen not as dangerous animals but, instead, as sources of several scientific insights useful for human health. Check the full paper in Biota Neotropica as well as the version of the Folha de São Paulo newspaper. 

Where are the bats? An environmental complementarity analysis in a megadiverse country

Field surveys are necessary to overcome Wallacean shortfalls. We used the concept of environmental complementarity to identify non-surveyed regions for bats that are different from others already surveyed in Brazil. Northern Cerrado and Western Caatinga are top priorities for bat surveys! Read the full paper here.





New research! Wind farm bat fatalities in southern Brazil: temporal patterns and influence of environmental factors

Impacts of wind farms on bats are scarcely known in Brazil. To fill this gap, Izidoro Amaral and collaborators analyzed spatiotemporal patterns in bat fatalities in a wind farm in southern Brazil, monitoring bat carcasses monthly in 129 wind towers between 2014 and 2018. 266 were found carcasses of six insectivorous bat species. Most of the fatalities were from Tadarida brasiliensis (Molossidae). The fatalities occurred exclusively between October and May (southern spring to southern autumn), mainly in towers close to the nearest urban center. Fatalities were positively correlated with wind speed. Eighty-three percent of bat activity occurred between 15 ° C and 23 ° C. To minimize the fatalities of synanthropic species, such as T. brasiliensis, the wind complexes must be located at least 4 km away from the urban centers, where these species are sheltered. In addition, between December and March, when most species in the subtropical and temperate region of South America reproduce, wind towers located near known shelters are expected to suspend activity on the hottest nights, when bats are most active. The full paper can be read here.

Turnover or intraspecific trait variation: explaining functional variability in a neotropical anuran metacommunity

New paper is out! Margay (Leopardus wiedii) in the southernmost Atlantic Forest: Density and activity patterns under different levels of anthropogenic disturbance

Populations of the small threatened neotropical felid, the margay Leopardus wiedii can persist in areas with moderate levels of human disturbance, as long as there are reasonably preserved forest matrices in these areas. This is one of the results found by our study published in PLoS One, whose objective was to increase knowledge about the ecology of the species in the southern limit of the Atlantic Forest, conducted in areas with different levels of human disturbance in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The study was carried out by scientists from BiMaLab-PPGBAN-UFRGS, PUCRS, SEMA-RS Biodiversity Department and the Pró-Carnívoros Institute, covering important conservation areas in Rio Grande do Sul, such as the Turvo State Park, the Serra Geral National Park, the National Forest of Passo Fundo, the Pachecos Wildlife Refuge, the Pro-Mata Nature Research and Conservation Center and an area of ​​rural matrix in the municipality of Teutônia. The margay proved to be dependent on forest environments, which was already expected due to its arboreal habit and its density showed a positive relationship with vegetation cover. However, in the region of the study, the species seems to tolerate certain levels of anthropic changes in the landscape, occurring in more preserved forest environments, but also in rural matrices, as long as they have associated forest areas. The study is an important contribution to the development of comprehensive conservation strategies for this small neotropical felid still little known and threatened, particularly in the southern limit of the Atlantic Forest.

Otters and other mustelids are fascinating! Do you want to know more about these incredible carnivores? Follow Instagram @clubedalontra

Find out more about our new research and outreach project – Bats of the Pampa!

Take a look at our research project Aerial insectivorous bat assemblages of the Brazilian Cerrado, Pantanal and Pampa and the associated outreach project especially dedicated to the bats of the Pampa, the least known and protected of all Brazilian biomes. And take a look at the logo, isn’t beautiful?

Digital Fauna of Rio Grande do Sul is online!

The Neotropical region is the most biodiverse region on the planet. Because it is included within different biogeographic regions, and includes a biome that does not exist in other Brazilian states, Pampa, Rio Grande do Sul has  very high faunistic diversity of species, and quite different from the rest of the country. This project will seek to provide all interested citizens with information on the fauna of Rio Grande do Sul, highlighting species endemic to the state and taking advantage of the existence of a strong tradition of zoological research in UFRGS and other entities in Rio Grande do Sul. In this first phase we catalogued all mammals of Rio Grande do Sul. The next phase will include coastal and marine birds. Visit the site here.

Women in Brazilian Mammalogy

The special edition of the Bulletin of the Sociedade Brasileira de Mastozoologia – Women in Brazilian Mammalogy –, aimed to highlight high quality works and fundamental contributions carried out by women in all areas of Brazilian Mammalogy, as well as discussing the issue of gender equality in Science. This special edition was edited by ou lab’s coordinator, Maria João Ramos Pereira, in partnership with Daniela M. Rossoni (Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago), Bárbara M.A. Costa (Department of Biological Science, Florida State University) and  Rebeca M.F. Barreto (Grupo de Estudos em Analise de Modelagem, Ecologia, Etnobiologia e Ecofeminismos, Universidade Federal do Vale do São Francisco). The editorial may be found here.

The fabulous illustration is authored by Brenda Godoy Alexandre (PPGBM-UFRGS).

Are we underestimating the threat status of Brazilian bats?

In this essay, published in the Boletim da Sociedade Brasileira de Mastozoologia, special volume Women in Brazilian Mammalogy, Ludmilla Aguiar (PPGZoologia, Universidade de Brasília) and Maria João Ramos Pereira (PPGBAN-BiMaLab, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul) suggest that bats may be wrongly perceived as less threatened than the whole of the other mammals, by comparing bat conservation status with that of the remaining mammals in Brazil, South America and worldwide. Seeing that Brazil is megadiverse and suffering huge rates of deforestation, their results indicate an unbalanced assessment towards bats and, considering the lack of robust ecological data on many species, they suggest the use of alternative approaches for the redefinition of bat conservation status in Brazil.

A meta-analysis of the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on genetic diversity in mammals

In this study published in Mammalian Biology by Ana Lino (CESAM, Universidade de Aveiro), Carlos Fonseca (CESAM, Universidade de Aveiro), Danny Rojas (Departamento de Ciencias Naturales y Matemáticas de la Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali, Colômbia), Erich Fischer (PPGECO, Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso do Sul) and Maria João Ramos Pereira (PPGBAN-BiMaLab, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul) we tested if genetic diversity of mammal populations that live in fragments is lower than those living in continuous habitats and we explores potential traits related to the observed patterns.

Distribution of mammal species studied for effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on population genetic diversity, which were included in the meta-analysis in Lino et al. 2019.

We found an overall decrease in allelic diversity, allelic richness, observed heterozygosity and expected heterozygosity in mammal species livining in scenarios of high habitat fragmentation. Larger species are those most negatively affected by fragmentation; terrestrial and arboreal mammals are more negatively affected than flying species; herbivores suffer consistent negative effect of fragmentation; and forest-dependent species are the most susceptible to the negative effects of fragmentation.

BiMa-Lab’s paper – Who’s calling? Acoustic identification of Brazilian bats – highlited at BBC Brazil.

Our paper received quite the attention from BBC Brasil. Check the whole article here!



Eating down the food chain: generalism is not an evolutionary dead end for herbivores

A new study published in Ecology Letters (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ele.12911/full) by Danny Rojas (Departamento de Ciencias Naturales y Matemáticas de la Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali, Colômbia) Maria João Ramos Pereira (PPGBAN-BiMaLab, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul), Carlos Fonseca (CESAM, Universidade de Aveiro) and Liliana Dávalos (Stony Brook University, EUA)
elucidates the relationship between diet and speciation.

Here we found that a highly varied herbivorous diet (including for example fruits, nectar and pollen) or a predominantly herbivorous diet that includes some animal resources increases the formation of new species. In contrast, when bats specialize in a single type of plant product, the rate of formation of new species tends to decline. Therefore, general herbivory or a moderately insectivorous omnivory favors the increase of species diversity in an evolutionary setting, possibly because this strategy is a form of insurance against the erratic and unpredictable patterns of flowering and fruiting of plants in the Neotropics. The study has already had repercussion in the international scientific media.