Bats’ brains, new study


This video from the USA says about itself:

Bat Biology 101

3 July 2013

Bat biologist Dr. DeeAnn Reeder gives a quick lesson on bat physiology and anatomy.

From Wildlife Extra:

New study gets inside the brains of bats

A groundbreaking new study at Technische Universität München in Germany has found that there’s more to bats’ use of echolocation that meets the eye (or ear).

The study set out to investigate spatial orientation in bats, and reveals for the first time that spatial maps representing different echo delays in the brains of bats adapts to external factors.

Of course the use of echolocation in bats is nothing new. It has long been known that bats measure the delay of their echoes in order to navigate and hunt prey, but just what goes on in their brains to enable them to map their surroundings so efficiently has been unclear.

The study – run by Dr. Uwe Firzlaff – reveals that when a bat flies too close to an object, the number of activated neurons in its brain increases, resulting in the object appearing disproportionately larger on the bat’s brain map than objects at a safe distance, as if it were magnified.

“The map is similar to the navigation systems used in cars in that it shows bats the terrain in which they are moving,” Firzlaff explains. “The major difference, however, is that the bats’ inbuilt system warns them of an impending collision by enhancing neuronal signals for objects that are in close proximity.”

In essence, bats in flight are constantly evaluating their movement and mapping it against their distance to objects. “Our research has led us to conclude that bats display much more spatial information on their acoustic maps than just echo reflection,” says Firzlaff. “We may have just uncovered one of the fundamental mechanisms that enables vertebrates to adapt flexibly to continuously changing environments,” he concludes.

See also here.

The new research was published here.

Bat boxes in Britain


This video is called hy Do Bats Need Cowpats? – The Animal’s Guide To Britain, Episode 2 – BBC Two.

From the RSPB in Britain:

Build a home for bats

Bats are finding it hard to find food to eat, plus many of their natural sleeping places are being damaged and destroyed.

Simply putting up a bat box will help these night-time creatures have somewhere safe to raise a family and sleep during the day.

You’ll want to keep an eye out for common pipistrelles – they are our smallest bats, weighing the same as 10 paperclips and are small enough to fit in a matchbox!

RSPB bat boxes: see here.

Helping bats in the Netherlands: here.

Bolivian golden bat discovery


This video says about itself:

Golden Bat Revealed As ‘New Species

4 August 2014

From the BBC:

4 August 2014

Bolivian golden bat revealed as ‘new species’

By Michelle Warwicker, BBC Nature

A golden bat from Bolivia has been described as a new species by scientists.

Myotis midastactus had previously been classified as another bat found in South America called Myotis simus.

But examination of a collection of museum specimens suggested the existence of a different species, thought to live only in Bolivia.

Its most distinctive characteristic is its golden-yellow, very short and woolly fur.

This bright colouration – which is unique among New World Myotis species – earned the bat its new name midastactus, after the Greek legend of King Midas and his golden touch.

There are over 100 species of Myotis – or mouse-eared bats – in the world.

In the wild, Myotis midastactus lives in the Bolivian savanna. It eats small insects and roosts during the day in holes in the ground, hollow trees and under thatched roofs.

The full description of the species, published online in the Journal of Mammalogy, was carried out by Dr Ricardo Moratelli and Dr Don Wilson, from Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, US respectively.

Dr Moratelli built on a paper he published in 2011 suggesting differences in bats from Bolivia to others found in the Amazon basin.

The team carried out detailed morphological and morphometric statistical analyses of 27 museum specimens kept in several museums in the US and Brazil, to confirm the existence of a distinct species.

Dr Moratelli admitted he has been unable to capture living specimens of Myotis midastactus, despite having spent two months trying to do so. However he highlighted the importance of museum specimens as a resource for studying biodiversity: “I can confidently say that many new species from different zoological groups are in museum cabinets around the world, awaiting recognition and formal description.”

He added: “Discovering new species is the most exciting part of my research, and in some cases describing a new species can be the first step to preserve others.”

According to the new study, the conservation status of Myotis midastactus is not yet clear. But it acknowledges that scientists previously described Myotis simus living in Bolivia (now believed to be Myotis midastactus) as “near threatened”.

The new study also suggests Myotis simus – also known as velvety Myotis – does not live in Bolivia, although it is found in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru.

Myotis midastactus is the fifth new species of bat Dr Moratelli has described. Others include Myotis diminutus, a tiny bat species found in the Ecuadorian Andes; Myotis lavali from north-eastern Brazil, Myotis izecksohni found in Atlantic forest in southern Brazil, and Myotis handleyi from the mountains of northern Venezuela.

The new discovery is the latest development of a larger project which aims to find out more about mouse-eared bats living in the neotropical ecozone.

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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