Skip to main content

Data from: Bat ensembles differ in response to use zones in a tropical biosphere reserve

Cite this dataset

Yoh, Natalie et al. (2020). Data from: Bat ensembles differ in response to use zones in a tropical biosphere reserve [Dataset]. Dryad.


Biosphere reserves, designated under The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Man and Biosphere Programme, aim to sustainably integrate protected areas into the biological and economic landscape around them by buffering strictly protected habitats with zones of limited use. However, the effectiveness of biosphere reserves and the contribution of the different zones of use to protection is poorly known. We assessed the diversity and activity of bats in the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve (CRBR) in Sabah, Malaysia, using harp traps, mist nets and acoustic surveys in each zone—core, buffer, transition and in agricultural plots outside of the reserve. We captured 30 species, bringing the known bat fauna of CRBR to 50 species, half of Borneo’s bat species. Species composition and acoustic activity varied among zones and by foraging ensemble, with the core and buffer showing particular importance for conserving forest-dependent insectivorous bats. Frugivorous bats were found in all zones but were the most abundant and most species-rich ensemble within agricultural sites. Although sampling was limited, bat diversity and activity was low in the transition zone compared to other zones, indicating potential for management practices that increase food availability and enhance biodiversity value. We conclude that, collectively, the zones of the CRBR effectively protect diversity, but the value of the transition zone can be improved.


Live-capture data

Live trapping was conducted at eight sites in the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve (CRBR), also known as Crocker Range Park, from 19–22 July 2017, 24 June–26 July 2018 and 14 June–18 July 2019, covering different protection zones within the reserve: the core zone, the buffer zone, and the transition zone. An additional three sites were surveyed within the extralimital zone on the north-east edge of the reserve.

Survey sites in the north-east corner of CRBR were accessed from Mahua Substation and Malungung Control Post in 2017 and 2018, and through Inobong Substation in the north-west edge of the reserve in 2019. Most of the natural vegetation where bats were sampled from the three distinct protection zones is hill dipterocarp forest, occurring between 500 m a.s.l. to about 1000 m a.s.l.. The extralimital zones are mostly agriculture plots, with associated commercial crops including banana (Musa spp.), rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum), soursop (Annona spp.), mango (Mangifera spp.), rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis), oil palm (Elaeis guineensis), and durian (Durio spp.). Full details of each site are available at

Bats were captured at each site using four-bank harp traps positioned across trails or small streams. Ground polyester mist nets (9 m; 36 mm mesh size; four shelves) and double stacked nets (eight shelves) were positioned across established trails, at forest edges, and across small ponds and streams. Mist nets were checked every 15–30 min from 1800–2300 h, or until bat activity declined. Meanwhile, harp traps were checked several times in the evening, and once after times of peak activity in the morning. Bat sampling was avoided during periods of heavy rain. Hand nets were occasionally used to capture low flying bats in open areas and bats at roosts.

Captured bats were identified using the guides detailed below*. Forearm length (mm) and body mass (g) were recorded for each individual. Juveniles were distinguished from adults by examining the epiphyseal fusion of phalanges. The reproductive status of females was determined by examining the mammary glands and the surrounding area, and was categorized as non-reproductive, pregnant, lactating and post-lactating. Each captured individual was released at the point of capture within six hours. Occasional voucher specimens were collected to confirm the identification of uncertain records and were deposited at the Institute of Tropical Biology and Conservation, Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

*Phillipps, Q.; Phillipps, K. Phillipps’ Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo and Their Ecology, 2nd ed.; John Beaufoy Publishing Ltd.: Oxford, UK, 2018; p. 400.
  Kingston, T.; Lim, B.L.; Akbar, Z. Bats of Krau Wildlife Reserve; Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Publisher: Bangi, Malaysia, 2006.
  Payne, J.; Francis, C.M.; Philipps, K. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo; Sabah Society and World Wildlife Fund: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, 1985; p. 332.




Usage notes

Site Tambunan = north-east of the reserve, accessed from Mahua Substation and Malungung Control Post; Inobong = north-west of the reserve, accessed from Inobong substation
Location Codes correspond to location codes available with full site descriptions at
L = Live-capture transect
E = Extralimital agriculture; T = Transition zone; B = Buffer zone; C = Core zone
1:3 = Transect number
Zone Corresponding UNESCO Man & Biosphere zone or extralimital agriculture
Field# Field number assigned to each capture
Specimen Field number if voucher specimen collected
Trap Type MN = mist net; SN = stacked mist net; HT = harp trap; HN = hand net
Spp Species
Sex M = male; F = female
Age A = adult; J = juvenile
Repro. Reproductive status of females - NR = non reproductive; P = pregnant; L = lactating; PL = post-lactating 
FA (mm) Forearm length
Wgt (g) Weight
E Ear
TB (mm) Tibia length
HF (mm) Hind foot length


Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing, National Science Foundation, Award: 165871

University College Sabah Foundation

Natural Environmental Research Council, Award: EnvEast DTP scholarship NE/L002582/1

State University of New York Oswego, Award: Possibility Scholarship Program

University College Sabah Foundation