London, April 21 : Ecologists have placed fake concrete bat roosts in deforested areas in Costa Rica, in an effort to reclaim tropical forests.
According to a report in New Scientist, Detlev Kelm at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany, and his team placed 45 roosts in deforested areas in Costa Rica.
Placed in open areas formerly occupied by tropical forest, the 2-metre tall boxes attract bats, which then spread the seeds of forest renewal in their droppings.
Between five and 20 times as many seeds were deposited around the roosts as in deforested "control" plots, the researchers said.
Importantly, the seeds included those of "pioneer" plants that kick-start forest renewal.
They rapidly grow foliage, providing cover for other seed-dispersers, such as birds and insects, that would otherwise avoid the open spaces. The shelter also enables other plant species to germinate and grow.
According to Kelm, because the roosts are easy to install and need no maintenance, the strategy is much cheaper and simpler than physically replanting rainforest.