Research interests

  • Tropical Ecology
  • Disease Ecology
  • Species Diversity
  • Bat Ecology
  • Parasite Ecology



Scientific projects

With more than 1200 species bats are the second most species rich order of mammals and show an extremely high ecological diversity. Particularly the neotropical Phyllostomidae family presents a great variety in foraging ecology and roosting behaviour. Besides in caves or hollow trees these bats also roost in the foliage and even modify leaves into so called tent roosts. In my PhD research I am working on the tent making bat Uroderma bilobatum, that is a known carrier of a hepadnavirus (TBHBV) closely related to human hepatitis B virus.
Within the multidisciplinary project “Ecology and Species Barriers in Viral Emerging Diseases”, funded by the DFG Priority Program SPP 1596, we are focusing on prevalence and distribution of TBHBV of the bats in different habitats as well as on physical condition (assessed by respirometry) and mobility of the bat hosts. Additionally I am interested in the diversity and host-parasite relations of bat flies (Streblidae and Nycteribiidae), a group of obligate and highly species specific ectoparasites of bats.


Hiller T, Brändel SD, Honner B, Page RA, Tschapka M (2020) Effect of habitat alteration on parasitization of bats by bat flies. Biotropica DOI: 10.1111/btp.12757

Hiller T & Haelewaters D (2019) A case of silent invasion: Citizen science confirms the presence of Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera, Coccinellidae) in Central America. PLoS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220082

Hiller T, Rasche A, Brändel SD, König A, Jeworowski L, O`Mara MT, Cottontail V, Page RA, Glebe D, Drexler JF, Tschapka M (2018) Host biology and anthropogenic factors affect hepadnavirus infection in a Neotropical bat. EcoHealth DOI: 10.1007/s10393-018-1387-5

Estrada-Villegas S, Halczok TK, Tschapka M, Page RA, Brändel SD, Hiller T (2018) Bats and their Bat Flies: Community Composition and Host Specificity on a Pacific Island Archipelago. Acta Chiropterologica DOI: 10.3161/15081109ACC2018.20.1.012

Haelewaters D, Hiller T, Dick CW (2018) Bats, Bat Flies, and Fungi: A Case of Hyperparasitism. Trends in Parasitology DOI: 10.1016/

Haelewaters D, Hiller T, Gorczak M, Pfister DH (2018) Influence of Elytral Color Pattern, Size, and Sex of Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera, Coccinellidae) on Parasite Prevalence and Intensity of Hesperomyces virescens (Ascomycota, Laboulbeniales). Insects DOI: 10.3390/insects9020067

T Hiller, B Honner, RA Page, M Tschapka (2018) Leg structure explains host site preference in bat flies (Diptera: Streblidae) parasitizing neotropical bats (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae). Parasitology 145: 1475-1482; DOI: 10.1017/s0031182018000318

MJ Walker, A Dorrestein, JJ Camacho, LA Meckler, KA Silas, T Hiller, D. Haelewaters (2018) A tripartite survey of hyperparasitic fungi associated with ectoparasitic flies on bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera) in a neotropical cloud forest in Panama. Parasite DOI: 10.1051/parasite/2018017

D Haelewaters, WP Pfliegler, T Szentiványi, M Földvári, AD Sándor, L Barti, JJ Camacho, G Gort, P Estók, T Hiller, CW Dick, DH Pfister (2017) Parasites of parasites of bats: Laboulbeniales (Fungi: Ascomycota) on bat flies (Diptera: Nycteribiidae) in central Europe.
Parasites & Vectors DOI: 10.1186/s13071-017-2022-y

Rose A, Brändel SD, Cvecko P, Engler S, Hiller T, Knörnschild M, Tschapka M (2017) New records of hypopigmentation in two neotropical phyllostomid bat species with different roosting habits (Uroderma bilobatum, Glossophaga soricina). Mammalia DOI 10.1515/mammalia-2016-0086  (online first)

Conference contributions

Hiller T, Rasche A, Brändel SD, König A, Jeworowski L, O’Mara T, Cottontail V, Page R, Glebe D, Drexler JF, Tschapka M (2016) Anthropogenic factors shape TBHBV infection patterns in the neotropical tent-making bat Uroderma bilobatum. Oral presentation at the European Conference of Tropical Ecology (GTÖ), Göttingen, Germany.

Hiller T and Tschapka M (2013) Bat flies on cave-dwelling bats in Costa Rica. Poster presented at the 16th International Bat Research Conference (IBRC) & the 43rd North American Symposium ob Bat Research (NASBR), San José, Costa Rica.

Hiller T and Tschapka M (2013) Bat flies on cave-dwelling bats in Costa Rica. Oral presentation at the annual conference of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) & the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), San José, Costa Rica.

Vallo P, Benda P, Cerveny J, Hiller T, Uhrin M, Reiter A,  Badu EK, Lucan RK, Oppong SK, Drosten C, Koubek P, Tschapka M (2013) Genetic structure of a Sahelo-Sudanian bat species Scotophilus leucogaster in West Africa. Zoological Days 2013, Brno, Czech Republic.

Hiller T, Tschapka M (2013) Bat flies on cave-dwelling bats in Costa Rica. Poster presented at „Treffen der Fledermausforscher in Deutschland 2013“, Rottenburg-Ergenzingen, Germany.


    Thomas Hiller
    Institute of Evolutionary Ecology
    and Conservation Genomics
    University of Ulm
    Albert-Einstein-Allee 11
    89081 Ulm
    Tel: +49 (0)731 50 22675
    Email: thomas.hiller()