Non-Invasive Analysis of Bat Diets in the Yolo Bypass Using DNA
How bats in the Yolo Bypass colony may reduce crop pests and contribute to agricultural sustainability.
Background and Significance
The largest bat colony in California is just minutes from UC Davis: each summer about 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats ( Tadarida brasiliensis) roost and raise their pups in the Yolo Basin Wildlife Area. The bats are thought to provide valuable ecosystem services by consuming agricultural pests in the Central Valley, but the diet of these bats has not been studied in over 25 years. In this study we apply DNA metabarcoding to gain new insights into the feeding patterns of bats during the critical pupping season. This research helps develop reliable and specific DNA methods that demonstrate the value of bats and help increase their representation in local conservation plans.
This project is funded by through the Yolo Basin Foundation Graduate Student Fellowship, as well as a UC Davis Jastro Research Fellowship and a Seed Grant from the UC Davis Genome Center. Undergraduates Shayan Kaveh, Victor Martinez, Serra Perry, and Khyana Yearwood provided valuable assistance with field sampling and laboratory work. Khyana received a 2021 Provost's Undergraduate Fellowship (PUF) to study bat endoparasites using metabarcoding.