First bat ever seen on St Kilda island


This video is called Nathusius’ pipistrelle bats advertising for mates.

From the BBC:

1 July 2014 Last updated at 08:54 GMT

Bat recorded for the first time on St Kilda

A bat has been recorded for the first time on the remote Scottish archipelago of St Kilda.

The Nathusius’ pipistrelle, which is a rare sight on the UK mainland, was spotted by visitors last month.

The bat was found on St Kilda’s main island of Hirta, resting on the wall of a small, stone-built store known as a cleit.

Nathusius’ pipistrelles are a migratory species and were first recorded in Britain in Shetland in 1940.

Individual animals have been recorded on North Sea oil platforms and the Shetland and Orkney islands, according to the Bat Conservation Trust.

The only mammals previously found on St Kilda, which lies 41 miles (66km) east of the Isle of Lewis, were Soay sheep and the St Kilda field mouse.

The islands once had house mice, but they died out after the last human residents abandoned St Kilda in 1930.

The National Trust for Scotland, which manages St Kilda, said it was not known from where the bat had flown.

Bats in Friesland, the Netherlands


This video from The Netherlands says about itself:

After sunset, the common noctules leave their home.

Ecologists from Friesland in the Netherlands report about bats in the north east of that province.

Six bat species were found.

They were (in order of numbers, with the most common species first): common pipistrelle, Nathusius’ pipistrelle, serotine bat, common noctule bat, Daubenton’s bat and particoloured bat.

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Aruba, Bonaire bats travel to Venezuela


This video says about itself:

Lesser long-nosed bats at hummingbird feeder

8 okt. 2009

Bats on Hummingbird feeder in southern AZ. in early October

Lesser Long-nosed bats (Leptonycteris curasoae). A species that feeds on the nectar. They migrate up from northern Mexico and arrive in south-central Arizona when columnar cactus begin flowering in late spring. The bats drink the nectar and then eat the fruit of saguaros while moving east across southern Arizona. During late summer and early fall the lesser longed-nosed bats reach southeast Arizona where their primary food source becomes agaves and urban hummingbird feeders. Lesser long-nosed bats are federally listed as an endangered species in both the U.S. and Mexico

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) on 10 May 2014:

Exactly one year ago, researchers from STINAPA Bonaire‘s Natural and Historic Resources Unit recaptured a Long-nosed Bat (Leptonycteris curasoae) on Bonaire originally tagged on Curaçao, confirming that this species migrates between the islands. Over the last year, Aruba was added to the list when bats ringed on Bonaire were recaptured on Aruba. These recaptures demonstrated that there is a meta-population of Long-nosed Bats moving between all three islands. Thanks to ongoing monitoring of this nocturnal flying mammal by a team of dedicated researchers, we now know that these bats migrate as far as Venezuela.

In March 2014, three Long-nosed Bats tagged on Aruba and one on Bonaire were recaptured in Venezuela by a team of scientists, led by Dr. Jafet Nassar from the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC). The recaptures took place close to the city of Coro in the state of Falcón in mainland Venezuela. This was the ‘missing piece of the puzzle’ of the migratory and long-distance movements of these amazing creatures. This exciting discovery is the product of more than five years of monitoring by STINAPA Bonaire, CARMABI, Fundacion Parke Nacional Arikok (united in the Bat Conservation Program of the ABC Islands – PPRABC) and the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research. During this time, more than 6,000 individual bats were captured and tagged.

The Long-nosed Bat has an important ecological role on the ABC islands as a key pollinator species for several species of columnar cacti. This discovery adds to our understanding of mammalian ecology and the population dynamics of this keystone species and could have significant implications for the management and conservation of bat populations on the Dutch Caribbean islands and abroad.

PPRABC is a member of RELCOM – The Latin American and Caribbean Network for Bat Conservation.

Bats take a bite out of Ozzy Osbourne’s building plans. The Black Sabbath singer, who once bit the head off a bat, sees his plans to convert a barn on his Buckinghamshire estate quashed after council finds evidence of his winged nemeses: here.

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Egyptian fossil relatives of Madagascar bats discovered


This video from the USA says about itself:

26 Sep 2012

Dr. Nancy Simmons specializes in the morphology and evolutionary biology of bats (Chiroptera). Together with several collaborators, she is developing a data set of morphological characters scored in species representing all major clades of bats. These data include new information gained from high-resolution CT scans of rare bats and are being combined with DNA sequence data to develop a robust higher-level phylogeny for Chiroptera.

With collaborators, she is doing an in-depth study of the evolution of megabats — flying foxes and their relatives — using both molecular and morphological data. Dr. Simmons is also working with an expert on echolocation behavior to develop a method for coding features of echolocation calls for phylogenetic analysis.

From the American Museum of Natural History in the USA:

Sucker-Footed Bat Fossils Broaden the Bat Map

by AMNH on 02/04/2014 05:00 pm

Today, Madagascar sucker-footed bats are found only on their island home, but new research from the American Museum of Natural History and Duke University shows that wasn’t always the case. The discovery of two extinct relatives in northern Egypt suggests the unusual creatures, which evolved sticky footpads to roost on slick surfaces, are primitive members of a group of bats that evolved in Africa and ultimately went on to flourish in South America.

A team of researchers described the two bat species from several sets of fossilized jawbones and teeth unearthed in the Sahara. The findings, reported on February 4 in the journal PLOS ONE, represent the first formal description of the family in the fossil record and show the sucker-footed bat family to be at least 36 million years older than previously known.

“We’ve assumed for a long time that they were an ancient lineage based on DNA sequence studies that have placed them close to very old groups in the bat family tree,” said Nancy Simmons, co-author on the study and a curator in the Department of Mammalogy.

But until now, scientists lacked any fossil evidence to confirm it.

Today, the sucker-footed bats consist of two species, Myzopoda aurita (see images of these bats here) and M. schliemanni, endemic to Madagascar. In contrast to almost all other bats, they don’t cling upside-down to cave ceilings or branches. Sucker-footed bats roost head-up, often in the furled leaves of the traveler’s palm, a plant in the bird-of-paradise family. To stick to such a smooth surface, the bats evolved cup-like pads on their wrists and ankles. Scientists previously suspected the pads held the bats up by suction, but recent research has demonstrated the bats instead rely on wet adhesion, like a tree frog.

The two extinct species, Phasmatonycteris phiomensis and P. butleri, date to 30 and 37 million years ago, respectively, when the environment was drastically different. Northern Africa was more tropical, said Dr. Simmons, and home to a diverse range of mammals, including primates and early members of the elephant family.

“The habitat was probably fairly forested, and there was likely a proto-Nile River, a big river that led into the ancient Tethys Ocean,” said Gregg Gunnell, director of the Duke University Lemur Center‘s Division of Fossil Primates and a co-author on the paper.

The fossilized teeth imply that, like their living relatives, the ancient bats fed on insects. It’s impossible to know from the fossils if the extinct species had already evolved their characteristic sucker-feet, but the teeth shed light on another aspect of bat evolution. The presence of sucker-footed bats in Africa at least 37 million years ago supports the theory that this family is one of the most primitive members of a lineage that now dominates South America.

From vampires to fruit- and nectar-eaters to carnivores, the majority of South America’s bats belong to one large superfamily, known as Noctilionoidea.

“We think that the superfamily originated in Africa and moved eastward as Gondwana was coming apart,” Gunnell said. “These bats migrated to Australia, then actually went through Antarctica and up into South America using an ice-free corridor that connected the three continents until about 26 million years ago.”

According to this hypothesis, the sucker-footed bat fossils showed up right where scientists expected to find them: at the literal and figurative base of the Noctilionoidea family tree.

“Now, we can unambiguously link them through Africa,” Simmons said.

You can read the scientific paper here.

Like Darwin’s Finches, But Weirder, Bat Faces Showcase Amazing Adaptations: here.

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Bat research in Panama


This video says about itself:

30 May 2010

“Bat Women of Panama” showcases a small group of female scientists who use reason, technology and even creativity to reveal the many mysteries of Central America’s amazing bats.

Set on the small island of Barro Colorado, in the Panama Canal, this film follows five research biologists through wet tropical forests as they encounter a variety of bat species with surprising physical and behavioral adaptations. Stunning scenes, fascinating biological wonders and the playful wit of the film narrator will keep students engaged as they learn about one of nature’s most misunderstood creatures.

From Smithsonian.com in the USA:

A Night in the Forest Capturing Bats

Our intrepid reporter joins tropical bat researchers in the field one night and gains some appreciation for their fangs

By Paul Bisceglio

January 30, 2014 2:00PM

Stefan Brändel lives on a big island in the middle of the Panama Canal and spends his nights catching bats. Part of a small group of German scientists studying disease transmission in tropical forests, he hikes deep into the island’s thick vegetation three to four evenings each week to collect data by snaring the creatures in long nets secured between trees. The work lasts until early morning, but Brändel, a doctoral student at the University of Ulm, is indefatigable—he really likes bats.

“I love diversity, and bats are a super diverse group of mammals, with a few thousand species worldwide, and 74 here on this island in the neotropics,” he told me a few months ago, when I visited the island, named Barro Colorado, to see one of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Center‘s research outposts, a cluster of labs and dorms on the forest’s edge where he stays with other scientists throughout the year to study the island’s protected flora and fauna.

“And they are cool animals,” he added. “That’s the most convincing part.” …

The data collection took about two hours. After processesing each bat, Brändel unpinched their wings to let them go. The final one he studied was a rare catch: Phylloderma stenops, known as the “pale-faced bat.” Its tan fur and pointed, ridgy ears were indeed attractive. Tschapka joined Brändel and Hiller to say goodbye to the creature, and they gently passed it around, each holding its puggish face close to his own for one last inspection. When they released it, the bat disappeared shrieking into the forest.

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Good European bats news


This video says about itself:

This stunning slow motion footage shows how bats use echolocation to find water. We know how bats echolocate to hunt insects, but this is the first study to show how they recognise large, flat objects like ponds. Moreover, by testing young bats that had never encountered a pond or river before, the researchers showed that bats seem to have a built-in ability to recognize these important features of their environment. Read the original research paper here.

Translated from Dutch news agency ANP today:

Things are going better again for bats in Europe. Their numbers have increased between 1993 and 2011 by 40 percent, after years of decline. According to a study by the European Environment Agency (EEA), a research group of the European Union.

In the second half of the 20th century the flying mammals suffered much from agricultural intensification, deforestation and destruction of their sleeping roosts, causing entire colonies to be exterminated. Also, many bats succumbed to the toxic dieldrin, a substance for making timber for housing insect free, banned in 2004.

More about this is here. And here. And here.

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Frogs mating, and the bats danger


This video says about itself:

Risky Ripples

23 Jan 2014

When a male túngara frog serenades female frogs from a pond, he creates watery ripples that make him easier to target by rivals and predators such as bats. A túngara frog will stop calling if it sees a bat overhead, but ripples continue moving for several seconds after the call ceases. In the study, published Jan. 23, 2014 in the journal Science, researchers found evidence that bats use echolocation — a natural form of sonar — to detect these ripples and home in on a frog. The discovery sheds light on an ongoing evolutionary arms race between frogs and bats. Video by Wouter Halfwerk.

From The Why Files:

Menacing mating game: Frogs fear bats!

23 January 2014

Like any foolish fellow, the túngara frog lives and loves dangerously. To those in the tropical-bio-biz, it’s old news that this resident of shallow ponds ranging from Venezuela to Central Mexico is prey to frog-eating bats.

That croaking mating call makes a great target for the flying mammals with an appetite for frogs’ legs. But now we hear another reason why life is hard for the feckless frog.

In a study released today, scientists revealed that the croaking frog sends two separate signals to the bats: First, the mating call, which deters competing males while attracting females — and those hungry bats.

But the frogs power their croak by inflating and deflating an enormous air sac, which forms ripples on the pond that survive even after the frog chokes off its croaks after seeing a bat against the night sky

To test the interaction between the bats and frogs, first author Wouter Halfwerk of Leiden University in The Netherlands set up an experiment in Panama, using artificial frogs to simulate the appropriate sound, with or without ripples

Halfwerk and co-author Michael Ryan, professor of zoology at the University of Texas, found that bats would attack in response to the mating call alone, but the attacks increased 36 percent when ripples accompanied the soundtrack.

Frogs croak, and then croak!

This makes life difficult for the frogs, Ryan notes. To reproduce, they must call. “The males can stop calling, but they can’t take these ripples back, so the danger of calling extends for a few seconds. It’s amazing that bats are able to figure this out.”

The tests were held in darkness, so the bats must have been using their sonar — echolocation — to find the pattern of ripples.

The mating call is primarily to attract females, but it also shouts “Keep away!” to other males, and the competition doubled their “I’m here too!” responses when ripples followed the croaks. “If you look when they are calling, the frogs are spaced out,” Ryan says. “If another male is too close, they start to make aggressive calls, and sometimes they fight; I have seen them kill each other.”

Ryan, who first noticed the frog-bat system as a graduate student in the 1980s studying with bat biologist Merlin Tuttle, notes, “We have known for a long time that the bats can find the frogs.” The new study, however, is the first to show how waves created when the frog sounds off affects bats — and other frogs.

Now that they know that competing males are more responsive when ripples are present, the researchers plan to see how females act with and without ripples.

Live to love, but love to live!

If the bats have “cracked the code” of the frogs behavior, turning a mating move into a death dance, that could be shaping frog behavior. “We know frogs prefer calling under cover, compared to out in the open,” says Ryan. Not only do bats have trouble flying to the sheltered frogs, but they may also have difficulty detecting ripples with echolocation in the brush.

We mused: the frogs, like certain guys we could name, allow mating to trump everything, even mortal danger. “Through the entire animal kingdom — there are exceptions — but most of the attributes that make an animal sexy or beautiful can be very costly. Men die before women in part because testosterone has a negative effect on the immune system.”

Every time an animal communicates, it creates a disturbance in the environment, and that’s especially true for the “look-at-me” mating messages. “The question I have,” Ryan adds, “is how many of these incidental things that we animals do become fodder for another animal that is looking to parasitize, to lay eggs” or grab dinner?

Do some showboating, and a biological big brother may be bugging your channel, Ryan says. “Males have to make themselves more conspicuous to females; to call louder, to wear brighter colors, do fancy dances. But all of this also makes them more conspicuous to predators.”

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Small bat crosses sea from England to the Netherlands


This video from Britain says about itself:

Nathusius pipistrelle bats advertising for mates

2 Nov 2012

Each autumn male Nathusius pipistrelle bats “sing” to attract mates. They often do this from mating roosts in buildings, trees and bat boxes. In this video you can see and hear one of these tiny bats advertising from underneath a roof tile. I’ve slowed and lowered the frequency of the call so you can hear the fabulous vocalisations that these amazing bats produce.

In 2012, 34 Nathusius pipistrelle bats were ringed in Blagdon in England.

Now, NOS TV in the Netherlands reports that one of these small bats was found in the Netherlands, late in 2013.

The pipistrelle was found dead at a farm in Franekeradeel local authority in Friesland province; about 500 meter from the sea coast.

Until now, it was not known that Nathusius pipistrelle bats were able to cross the North Sea. They are too small for attaching GPS gear to them.

See also here. And here.

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Australian bats’ heatwave problems


This video from Australia says about itself:

‘NO ME, NO TREE! – THE GREY-HEADED FLYING FOX

20 Dec 2012

Grey-headed flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) are highly environmentally significant. Sydney Wildlife carer Sonja Elwood describes their increasingly perilous situation.

From Wildlife Extra:

Australia parks staff give a helping hand to grey-headed flying foxes affected by extreme heat

January 2014: The Australian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) and Parks Victoria staff are working alongside dedicated wildlife volunteer groups to monitor and treat grey-headed flying foxes at Yarra Bend Park as the extreme heat wave continues in the country.

Up to 500 flying foxes from the Yarra Bend Park colony have died as a result of heat stress and that number was likely to increase greatly without measures being taken.

DEPI Incident Controller, Mark Winfield, said staff and volunteers were on site doing everything they could to keep the animals cool.

“Grey-headed flying foxes, as native animals, have evolved to deal with very high temperatures but only for short periods of time,” he said. “Heat stress incidents of this scale in the colony do not occur frequently, but into our fourth successive day of extreme heat, we saw the flying foxes really struggling to cope.

“The younger animals are particularly vulnerable to heat stress as they are unable to fly down to the river to drink alone and may just drop from their trees with dehydration and exhaustion.

“Volunteers have been spraying the animals with a fine mist that they can lick off their wings and are also trying to separate them as they tend to bunch up in the heat, which only exacerbates the problem.”

“There is also a vet on site assessing them and providing rehydration when appropriate.”

Over summer the established colony, which can be seen from the Bellbird Picnic area off Yarra Boulevard, can swell to over 30,000 flying foxes.

Members of the public have been advised to avoid contact with stressed, injured or dead flying foxes but to contact DEPI. All wildlife volunteers assisting with the heat stress event are trained and vaccinated.

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Four new African mammal species discovered


This video is called Fruit Bats in the Congo.

From the Field Museum in the USA today:

Four new mammal species discovered in Democratic Republic of Congo

32 minutes ago

Julian Kerbis Peterhans, a Roosevelt University professor and adjunct curator at The Field Museum who has conducted extensive studies on mammals in Africa, has announced the discovery of four new species of small mammals in the eastern section of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The mammals were found during an expedition to the Misotshi-Kabogo highlands led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and in another nearby forest with the Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles (CRSN) Lwiro – areas that were previously unexplored. “Our discoveries demonstrate the need for conserving this isolated reservoir of biodiversity,” Kerbis said.

“Three new species from a single forest (with a fourth from a nearby forest) is quite unique,” Kerbis added. “More often such finds would be made on island ecosystems. However, the highlands in which these species reside are isolated from adjacent forests and mountains by savannah habitats and low elevation streams.”

In two new papers published in the German journal Bonn Zoological Bulletin, Kerbis and his colleagues describe the two new species of shrews and the two new species of bats.

WCS and CRSN scientists together with Trento Science Museum in Italy are in the process of describing three new frog species and possibly a new chameleon from the same area from these surveys. The team also confirmed the presence of a unique squirrel and monkey whose existence had been recorded in historical surveys and collections dating from the 1950s.

Remarkably, all of these species were found during the course of a short survey of less than 30 days in 2007. “Given the clear importance of this site, we are working closely with the local communities and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to protect this unique area,” reported Dr. Andrew Plumptre, director of WCS’s Albertine Rift Program. “The local community has elected to create a new national park here to protect these unique species, but concerns over mining concessions that have been granted in the area are hampering its creation.”

Kerbis’ colleagues included scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (New York) the Centre de Recherché des Sciences Naturelles (Lwiro, Democratic Republic of Congo) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

See also here.