When bats go viral: Negative framings in virological studies imperils bat conservation

13 Mar 2018

The recent upsurge in bat-borne virus research has attracted substantial news coverage worldwide. A systematic review of virological literature revealed that most studies portrayed bats as a major concern for public health (51%) while disregarding their key role in delivering ecosystem services (96%). Although research on zoonoses is of utmost importance, biased framings can undermine decades of conservation efforts. We urge researchers and science communicators to carefully consider the conservation impacts of how research findings are presented to the public and to, whenever possible, highlight the ecological significance of bats, their dire conservation situation and their importance for human well-being.