Dr. Paul W. Webala

Journals & Publications

  • Paul Webala is a 2019 National Geographic Explorer, published author, and a senior lecturer of wildlife biology at Maasai Mara University, Kenya. He has held positions at National Museums of Kenya (NMK), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Karatina University (Kenya) and he is former Head of Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management and Director for Research at Maasai Mara University (MMARAU). He is an award-winning regional expert on small mammals, especially bats, with extensive fieldwork experience. Collaborating with scientists from around the world, one of his principal interests are the processes that drive rarity and abundance of mammals in natural and human-dominated environments. This research involves behavioural, ecological, and systematic/taxonomic questions and is central to his work of promoting bat conservation in Africa. He has published extensively in reputable international peer-reviewed journals; He is chair of Bat Conservation Africa and a science advisor to Bat Conservation International (USA); and together with colleagues he has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for science, capacity building, and biodiversity conservation projects in Africa. He is also a member of the Bat Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.


  • 2020 – ongoing: ESIA Regional Senior Bat Specialist: Bat monitoring surveys at Siruai Renewable Energy (Wind) Project, Kajiado. Client: The Biodiversity Consultancy (The Biodiversity Consultancy Ltd |).
  • September 2018 – ongoing: ESIA Regional Senior Bat Specialist: Bat monitoring surveys at Meru Renewable Energy Project. Client: Windlab Developments Kenya Pty Ltd. (Windlab) and The Biodiversity Consultancy (The Biodiversity Consultancy Ltd |)
  • 2016-2017: ESIA Regional Senior Bat Specialist: Bat monitoring surveys at the
  • proposed Meru Wind Park Project. Client: STRIX Ltd, Portugal.
  • 2016: ESIA Regional Senior Bat Specialist: Ecological impact assessment on bats for proposed wind power turbine planned in Turkana, Marsabit and Wajir Counties in Northern Kenya. Client: Frontier Investment Management Pty Ltd, Denmark.


  • Ngatia, D.K., P.W. Webala, M.J. Mware, T.M. Butynski, Y.A. de Jong, A.W. Ferguson (2021). Biogeography of the Egyptian mongoose Herpestes ichneumon (Linnaeus, 1758) in Africa, with first records for Laikipia County, central Kenya. African Journal of Ecology 59(2):359–369. https://doi.org/10.1111/aje.12830.
  • Thompson CW, Phelps KL, Allard MW, Cook JA, Dunnum JL, Ferguson AW, Gelang M, Khan FAA, Paul DL, Reeder DM, Simmons NB, Vanhove MPM, Webala PW, Weksler M, Kilpatrick CW. 2021. Preserve a voucher specimen! The critical need for integrating natural history collections in infectious disease studies. mBio 12:e02698-20. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.02698-20.
  • Kristian M Forbes, Omu Anzala, Colin J Carlson, Alyson A Kelvin, Krutika Kuppalli, Eric M Leroy, Gael D Maganga, Moses M Masika, Illich M Mombo, Dufton M Mwaengo, Roch F Niama, Julius Nziza, Joseph Ogola, Brad S Pickering, Angela L Rasmussen, Tarja Sironen, Olli Vapalahti, Paul W Webala, Jason Kindrachuk. Towards a coordinated strategy for intercepting human disease emergence in Africa. The Lancet Microbe, 2020; https://doi.org/10.1016/S2666-5247(20)30220-2.
  • Kareinen, L., Ogola, J., Kivistö, I., Smura, T., Aaltonen, K., Jääskeläinen, A. J…., Webala, P. W., Forbes, K. M., Sironen, T. (2020). Range Expansion of Bombali Virus in Mops condylurus Bats, Kenya. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 26(12), 3007-3010. https://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2612.202925.
  • Jocelyn P. Colella, Bernard Risky Agwanda, Faisal Ali Anwarali Khan, John Bates, Carlos A. Carrión Bonilla, Noé U. de la Sancha, Jonathan L. Dunnum, Adam W. Ferguson, Stephen E. Greiman, Prince Kaleme Kiswele, Enrique P. Lessa, Pamela Soltis, Cody W. Thompson, Maarten P. M. Vanhove, Paul W. Webala, Marcelo Weksler and Joseph A. Cook (2020). Build international biorepository capacity. Science 370 (6518), 773-774. https://doi.org/1126/science.abe4813
  • Rossoni DM, Demos TC, Goodman SM, Yego RK, Mohlman J, Webala PW, Patterson BD (2020). Genetic, morphological and acoustic differentiation of African trident bats (Triaenops, Rhinonycteridae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 192 (1): 236–257. https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlaa098
  • Katunzi, Thomas, Soisook, Pipat, Webala Paul, W., Armstrong Kyle, N., and Bumrungsri, Sara (2020). Bat activity and species richness in different land-use types in and around Chome Nature Forest Reserve, Tanzania. African Journal of Ecology 59(1): 117-131. https://doi.org/10.1111/aje.12783.
  • Monadjem A, Demos TC, Dalton DL, Webala PW, Musila S, Kerbis Peterhans JC, Patterson BD (2020) A revision of pipistrelle-like bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) in East Africa with the description of new genera and species. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society191(4):1114–1146. https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlaa087.
  • Rocha, R., Aziz, S.A., Brook, C.E., Carvalho, W.D., Cooper-Bohannon, R., Frick, W.F., Huang, J.C.-C., Kingston, T., Lopez-Baucells, A., Maas, B., Mathews, F., Medellin, R.A., Olival, K.J., Peel, A.J., Plowright, R.K., Razgour, O., Rebelo, H., Rodrigues, L., Rossiter, S.J., Russo, D., Straka, T.M., Teeling, E.C., Treuer, T., Voigt, C.C. & Webala, P.W. (2020)Bat conservation and zoonotic disease risk: a research agenda to prevent misguided persecution in the aftermath of COVID-19. Animal Conservation 24: 303– 307. https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12636
  • Cook JA, Arai S, Armién B, Bates J, Bonilla CAC, de Souza Cortez MB, Dunnum JL, Ferguson AW, Johnson KM, Khan FAA, Paul DL, Reeder DM, Revelez MA, Simmons NB, Thiers BM, Thompson CW, Upham NS, Vanhove MPM, Webala PW, Weksler M, Yanagihara R, Soltis PS. 2020. Integrating biodiversity infrastructure into pathogen discovery and mitigation of emerging infectious diseases. Bioscience 70: 531–534. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biaa064.
  • Ferguson AW, Muloi D, Ngatia DK, Kiongo W, Kimuyu DM, Webala PW, et al. (2020) Volunteer based approach to dog vaccination campaigns to eliminate human rabies: Lessons from Laikipia County, Kenya. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 14(7): e0008260. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0008260
  • Patterson BD, Webala PW, Lavery T, Kerbis Peterhans JC, Goodman SM, Agwanda BR, Demos TC (2020). Evolutionary relationships and population genetics of the Afrotropical leaf-nosed bats (Chiroptera: Hipposideridae). ZooKeys 929: 117-161. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.929.50240
  • Rydell J, Fenton MB, Seamark E, Webala PW, Michaelsen TC (2020). White and clear wings in bats (Chiroptera). Canadian Journal of Zoology 98(2): 149-156. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjz-2019-0182
  • Webala, P., Cooper-Bohannon, R. & Musila, S. 2020. Taphozous hildegardeae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species2020: e.T21456A22111960. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-2.RLTS.T21456A22111960.en.
  • Nziza J, Goldstein T, Cranfield M, Webala PW, et al. (2019). Coronaviruses detected in bats in close contact with humans in Rwanda. EcoHealth. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-019-01458-8
  • Demos TC,Webala PW, Lutz HL, Kerbis-Peterhans JC, Goodman SM, Bartonjo M, Patterson BD (2019). Multilocus phylogeny of a cryptic radiation of Afrotropical long-fingered bats (Chiroptera, Miniopteridae). Zoologica Scripta 48(6), 826-830. https://doi.org/10.1111/zsc.12388.  
  • Demos TC, Webala PW, Goodman SM, Kerbis Peterhans JC, Bartonjo M, Patterson BD (2019) Molecular phylogenetics of the African horseshoe bats (Chiroptera: Rhinolophi­dae): expanded geographic and taxonomic sampling of the Afrotropics. BMC Evolutionary Biology 19: 1–166. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-019-1485-1.
  • Demos TC, Webala PW, Kerbis-Peterhans JC, Goodman SM, Cortés-Delgado N, Bartonjo M, Patterson BD (2019). Molecular phylogenetics of slit‐faced bats (Chiroptera: Nycteridae) reveal deeply divergent African lineages. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 57: 1019–1038. https://doi.org/10.1111/jzs.12313.
  • Webala PW, Mwaura J, Ndiritu GG, Patterson BD (2019) Effects of habitat fragmentation on the bats of Kakamega forest, western Kenya. Journal of Tropical Ecology 35(6): 260-269. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0266467419000221.
  • Webala PW, Rydell J, Dick CW, Musila S, Patterson BD (2019). Echolocation calls of high-duty-cycle bats (Hipposideridae and Rhinonycteridae) from Kenya. Journal of Bat Research & Conservation 12, 10-20. https://doi.org/10.14709/BarbJ.12.1.2019.02.
  • Patterson BD, Webala PW, Kerbis Peterhans JC, Goodman SM, Bartonjo M, Demos TC (2019) Genetic variation and relationships among Afrotropical species of Myotis (Chiroptera: Vespertil­ionidae). Journal of Mammalogy 100: 1130–1143. https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyz087.
  • Forbes KM, Webala PW, Jääskeläinen AJ, Ogola J, Masika MM, Kivistö E, Alburkat H, Pljusnin I, Levanov L, Korhonen EM, Huhtamo E, Mwaengo D, Smura T, Anzala O, Vapalahti O, Sironen T. (2019). Bombali Virus in Mops condylurus Bat, Kenya. Emerging Infectious Diseases25(5), 955-957. https://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2505.181666.
  • Mahiga SN, Webala P, Mware MJ, Ndang’ang’a P (2019) Influence of Land-Use Type on Forest Bird Community Composition in Mount Kenya Forest. International Journal of Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/8248270
  • Otieno TO, Goheen JR, Webala PW, Mwangi A, Osuga IM, Ford, AT (2019) Human- and risk-mediated browsing pressure by sympatric antelope in an African savanna. Biological Conservation 232: 59–65. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.028
  • Musila S, Monadjem A, Webala PW, Patterson BD, Hutterer R, Jong YA, Butynski TM, Mwangi G, Chen ZZ, Xue-Long Jiang XL (2019) An annotated checklist of mammals of Kenya. Zoological Research 40(1): 1–51. https://doi.org/10. 24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2018.059
  • Demos TC, Webala PW, Bartonjo M and Patterson BD (2018) Hidden Diversity of African Yellow House Bats (Vespertilionidae, Scotophilus): Insights from Multilocus Phylogenetics and Lineage Delimitation. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 6: 1–86. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2018.00086
  • Patterson BD, Webala PW, Bartonjo M, Nziza J, Dick CW, Demos TC. 2018. On the taxonomic status and distribution of African species of Otomops(Chiroptera: Molossidae) PeerJ 6:e4864 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4864
  • Jacobs DS, Catto S, Mutumi GL, Finger N, Webala PW (2017) Testing the Sensory Drive Hypothesis: Geographic variation in echolocation frequencies of Geoffroy’s horseshoe bat (Rhinolophidae: Rhinolophus clivosus). PLoS ONE 12(11): e0187769. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0187769.
  • Phillips CD, Hanson JD, Wilkinson J, Koenig L, Rees E, Webala P, Kingston T (2017) Microbiome Structural and Functional Interactions across Host Dietary Niche Space. Integrative and Comparative Biology, pp 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icx011.
  • Wechuli, D. B., Webala, P. W., Patterson, B. D. and Ochieng, R. S. (2017) Bat species diversity and distribution in a disturbed regime at the Lake Bogoria National Reserve, Kenya. African Journal of Ecology 55: 465–476. https://doi.org/10.1111/aje.12376
  • López-Baucells, A., Rocha, R., Webala, P., Nair, A., Uusitalo, R., Sironen, T., Forbes, K.M. (2016) Rapid assessment of bat diversity in the Taita Hills Afromontane cloud forests, south-eastern Kenya. Barbastella, Journal of Bat Research 9(1). https://doi.org/10.14709/BarbJ.9.1.2016.04
  • Jacobs, D.S. Mutumi, G.L. Maluleke, T. Webala, P. (2016). Convergence as an evolutionary trade-off in the evolution of acoustic signals: echolocation in horseshoe bats as a case study. in Evolutionary Biology: Convergent evolution, evolution of complex traits, concepts and methods (ed) P. Pontarotti. Springer Press, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-41324-2_6.
  • Lutz, H. L., Patterson, B. D., Kerbis, J. C., Stanley, W. T., Webala, P. W., Gnoske, T. P., Hackett, S. J., Stanhope, M. J. 2016. Diverse sampling of East African haemosporidians reveals chiropteran origin of malaria parasites in primates and rodents. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution99, 7–15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2016.03.004
  • Webala P. W., Musila, S., Makau R. 2014. Roost occupancy, roost site selection and diet of straw-coloured fruit bats (Pteropodidae: Eidolon helvum) in western Kenya: the need for continued public education. Acta Chiropterologica 16(1), 85–94. https://doi.org/10.3161/150811014X683291.
  • Patterson, B.D., Webala, P.W. 2012. Keys to the bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera) of East Africa. Fieldiana: Life and Earth Sciences 6, 1-63. https://doi.org/10.3158/2158-5520-12.6.1.
  • Webala, P. W., Craig, M.D., Law, B.S., Wayne, A.F., Bradley, J.S. 2010. Roost site selection by southern forest bat Vespadelus regulus and Gould’s long-eared bat Nyctophilus gouldi in logged jarrah forests; south-western Australia. Forest Ecology and Management 260, 1780–1790. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2010.08.022.
  • Webala, P. W., Craig, M.D., Law, B.S., Armstrong, K.N., Wayne, A.F., Bradley, J.S. 2011. Bat habitat use in logged jarrah eucalypt forests, south-western Australia. Journal of Applied Ecology 48(2), 398–406. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01934.x
  • Webala, P.W., Carugati, C., Fasola, M. 2010. Diversity in small mammals from eastern Lake Turkana, Kenya. Tropical Zoology 23, 9-20.
  • Kityo, R., Howell, K., Nakibuka, M., Ngalason, W., Tushabe, H. and Webala, P. W. East African Bat Atlas. Graphics Printing Press, Kampala, Uganda. Pp. 74
  • Webala, P. W., Carugati, C, Canova, L., Fasola, M. 2009. Bat assemblages from Eastern Lake Turkana, Kenya. Écol. (Terre Vie) 64, 85–91.
  • Webala, P. W., Muriuki, G., Lala, F., Bett A. 2006. The Small Mammal Community of Mukogodo Forest, Laikipia, Kenya. African Journal of Ecology 44, 363–370. https://doi.org/1111/j.1365-2028.2006.00634.x
  • Webala, P. W., Oguge, N. O., Bekele Afework. 2004. Bat Species Diversity and Distribution in three vegetation communities of Meru National Park, Kenya. African Journal of Ecology 42 (3), 171- 178. https://doi.org/1111/j.1365-2028.2004.00505.x

       Ongoing research projects

  • 2020 – Distribution and species diversity of bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera) in Kenya. Project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine under the Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) Program – Project 8-105 Kenya (nationalacademies.org).
  • 2018 – Wildlife viruses in Kenya – with key collaborators/researchers from the University of Nairobi, University of Arkansas (USA) and the University of Helsinki (Finland). Most emerging infectious diseases of humans are zoonotic – transmitted from animals to people. Due to the ease and frequency of international travel, these diseases can be quickly transported around the world and pose a global health risk to people and biodiversity. This project focusses on bats and rodents, the two most species rich groups of mammals, and have been implicated as host to a suite of viruses with serious public health consequences. It is very likely that undiscovered viruses of public health concern are hosted by these taxa, particularly in areas with high biodiversity and limited previous research such as rural Kenya. Within a One-Health framework, we are sampling a diverse range of bat and rodent species from different habitat types at Taita Hills, southwestern Kenya, to screen for known viruses and search for novel viruses (using Next Generation Sequencing).
  • 2018 – Bat research and conservation in Rwanda with Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association – https://www.rwandawildlife.org/bat-research-conservation/
  • 2018 -: Strategic Environmental Assessment (identification and validation) of priority features (Valued Ecological Components, VECs) for Strategic Environmental Assessment of Wind Power and Biodiversity (bats and birds) in Kenya.
  • 2018 – to date: Inventory and Monitoring of Rwanda’s Bat Biodiversity. Project funded by the National Geographic Society. Project ongoing