Orange nectar bats at Panama fruit feeder

This video says about itself:

Many Nectar Bats Taking Their Evening Meal At The Panama Fruit Feeder – May 23, 2020

Orange Nectar Bats aren’t the only mammals to visit the Panama Fruit Feeder at night, though they are certainly the most active. These bats have unique mouth physiology that allows them to use their muscles, as well as capillary action, to draw nectar from plants and feeders. Their tongues have a pair of grooves, lined many small muscles, that are used to force the nectar up and into their mouths.

New African leaf-nosed bats species discovery

This 2014 video from the USA says about itself:

This short video shows California leaf-nosed bats flying in and out of a cave entrance through a night-vision camera. BLM biologists monitor bat populations by counting the number of bats leaving a cave entrance for a calculated period of time.

Video taken by Sterling White, Desert District Abandoned Mine Lands and Hazmat Program Lead, during a bat survey in the spring of 2014.

From the Field Museum in the USA:

At least four new species of African leaf-nosed bats discovered

April 22, 2020

Summary: Researchers just discovered at least four new species of African leaf-nosed bats — cousins of the horseshoe bats that served as hosts of the virus behind COVID-19. Bats play a big role in our lives — they pollinate crops, eat disease-carrying bugs, and carry diseases themselves — but we know very little about them. The more we know about bats, the better able we’re to protect them and defend ourselves against diseases that they can spread.

Bats play a huge but poorly understood role in humans’ lives — they pollinate our crops, eat disease-carrying mosquitos, and carry diseases themselves. But we know next to nothing about most of these animals. There are more than 1,400 species of bats, and 25% of them have only been recognized by scientists in the last 15 years. For most bats, we don’t really know how they evolved, where they live, and how they interact with the world around them. That lack of knowledge can be dangerous — the more we know about bats, the better able we are to protect them and defend ourselves against diseases that they can spread.

In a new paper in a special issue of the journal ZooKeys focused on the coronavirus pandemic, researchers announced the discovery of at least four new species of African leaf-nosed bats — cousins of the horseshoe bats that served as hosts of the virus that caused COVID-19.

“With COVID-19, we have a virus that’s running amok in the human population. It originated in a horseshoe bat in China. There are 25 or 30 species of horseshoe bats in China, and no one can determine which one was involved. We owe it to ourselves to learn more about them and their relatives,” says Bruce Patterson, the Field Museum’s MacArthur curator of mammals and the paper’s lead author.

“None of these leaf-nosed bats carry a disease that’s problematic today, but we don’t know that that’s always going to be the case. And we don’t even know the number of species that exist,” says Terry Demos, a post-doctoral researcher in Patterson’s lab and a principal author of the paper.

The bats that Patterson and Demos studied are leaf-nosed bats in the family Hipposideridae. They get their common name from the elaborate flaps on skin on their noses that the bats use as radar dishes to focus their calls and help catch their insect prey. The family is spread throughout Africa, Asia, and Australasia but its African members are poorly known to science due to lack of research and political unrest in the areas where they’re found.

To get a better understanding of how the leaf-nosed bats are distributed and how they’re related to each other, Patterson, Demos, and their colleagues at Kenya’s Maasai Mara University and the National Museums of Kenya, and the Field Museum undertook a genetic study of leaf-nosed bats in Africa almost entirely based on museum specimens collected in various parts of Africa over the last few decades. In several cases, supposedly widespread species proved to be several genetically distinct species that simply looked alike — new species hidden in plain sight. These “cryptic species” often look similar to established species, but their DNA hints at their distinct evolutionary histories.

The genetic research indicates at least four new and undescribed species of bats; these new species don’t have official names yet, but they give us a glimpse at how much we still have to learn about Africa’s bats.

Finding new species of animals is always cool, but Patterson and Demos say this discovery takes on special importance in the era of COVID-19. The new species of leaf-nosed bats didn’t play a role in the coronavirus pandemic, but their sister family of horseshoe bats did. The horseshoe bats transmitted the novel coronavirus to another mammal (possibly the endangered, scale-covered pangolins), which then spread the disease to humans. It’s not the first time humans have contracted a disease from bats — they seem more capable of transmission than most other mammals.

It’s not that bats are uniquely dirty or covered in viruses. “All organisms have viruses. The roses in your garden have viruses,” says Patterson. “We worry about viruses when it comes to flu and pandemics, but viruses are part of nature and have been as far back as we go. And many viruses are harmless.” But while all animals carry viruses, bats seem especially good at passing them on to us. It might be because bats are some of the most social mammals, living in colonies of up to 20 million. “Because they huddle together and take care of each other, it doesn’t take long for a pathogen to get passed from one end of the colony to the other,” says Patterson.

The other possible reasons for bats being prone to spread disease can be traced to their ability to fly. “Flying is the most energetically expensive way to get around. If you skin a bat, it looks like Mighty Mouse, they have hardly any guts, they’re all shoulders and chest muscle. They’re incredible athletes,” says Patterson. And since flying is such hard work, they have high metabolisms and strong immune systems, and their DNA is really good at repairing itself when damaged. This extra hardiness means bats can harbor disease-causing agents without getting sick themselves; that same dose can be harmful to humans who come into contact with the bats.

And while these bats don’t normally have much contact with humans, the more that people destroy bats’ habitats and expose themselves to bats through hunting and consuming bat meat, the more likely it is that bats will spread viruses to people. “Unless you try to seek out bats, either to harass them or kill them, it’s very, very unlikely that they’ll infect you,” says Demos.

The researchers also note that while horseshoe bats, not their leaf-nosed cousins studied in this paper, have been tied to the spread of COVID-19, it’s still important to study leaf-nosed bats to help prevent future outbreaks. “Leaf-nosed bats carry coronaviruses — not the strain that’s affecting humans right now, but this is certainly not the last time a virus will be transmitted from a wild mammal to humans,” says Demos. “If we have better knowledge of what these bats are, we’ll be better prepared if that happens.”

The researchers also emphasize that in addition to questions about how the bats could harm humans, we need to make sure that we humans don’t harm bats in hopes of curbing disease. Patterson notes, “These bats have a place in nature and perform essential ecological functions, and we can’t let our terror of COVID cause us to pull apart natural ecological systems.”

Scientists compared the different kinds of coronaviruses living in 36 bat species from the western Indian Ocean and nearby areas of Africa. They found that different groups of bats have their own unique strains of coronavirus, revealing that bats and coronaviruses have been evolving together for millions of years. Developing a better understanding of how coronaviruses evolved can help us create better public health programs for the future: here.

Bat biology, new research

This December 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Biology of bats

It turns out that warm-blooded animals aren’t warm all of the time! Researchers at Brown University studying the muscles in bats’ wings found that their wings operate at a significantly lower temperature than their bodies, especially during flight. The National Science Foundation-funded team says this shows that warm-blooded animals have a lot more variation in body temperature than expected. That has implications for how animals are moving around, including humans.

Singapore fruit bats suffer from environmental degradation

This July 2018 video is called Lesser short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus brachyotis).

From the National University of Singapore:

Even resilient common species are not immune to environmental crisis

Measures of genetic diversity of a fruit bat common in Singapore decreased 30-fold over the last 90 years

December 18, 2019

A recent study by scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) revealed that the current biodiversity crisis may be much broader than widely assumed, and may affect even species thought to be common and tolerant of fragmentation and habitat loss.

Specifically, the research team found that the effective population size and genetic diversity of a common fruit bat species — the Sunda fruit bat (Cynopterus brachyotis) — that was believed to remain widely unaffected by urbanisation, has shrunk significantly over the last 90 years. By comparing historic DNA from museum samples collected in 1931 and modern samples collected in 2011 and 2012, the NUS team found a nearly 30-fold reduction in effective population size and corresponding levels of decline in genetic diversity estimates.

“This bat species carries a genomic signature of a steep breakdown in population-genetic diversity. The extreme bottleneck event that led to a reduction in genetic diversity happened some time in the early Anthropocene (around the 1940s) when humans’ impact on this planet became dominant,” explained first author Dr Balaji Chattopadhyay, who recently finished a postdoctoral fellowship at the NUS Department of Biological Sciences at the Faculty of Science.

Understanding the decline in population-genetic diversity of the Sunda fruit bat

An effective pollinator and seed disperser, Cynopterus brachyotis represents an important keystone bat species in Singapore’s ecosystem. This bat species is also widely distributed in human-dominated landscapes across tropical Southeast Asia.

In order to understand the effects of human-mediated changes such as urbanisation on the evolutionary trajectory of Singapore’s population of Cynopterus brachyotis, the NUS team reconstructed and compared diverse models of historic demography. The researchers sequenced and examined over 634 million DNA reads of Cynopterus brachyotis genome and generated multiple datasets for the study.

Their findings suggest that Singapore’s Cynopterus brachyotis population underwent a continuous decline that started approximately 195 generations ago (i.e. 1,600 years ago), and experienced a recent genetic bottleneck — or a sharp reduction in population size — nine generations ago, roughly in 1940. Genetic bottlenecks increase the vulnerability of a species to unpredictable events and can accelerate extinction of small populations. While bottlenecks following human interference have been documented in many endangered species, this study suggests that even common human commensals may not be immune to the effects of bottlenecks.

“Cynopterus brachyotis is a generalist fruit bat that tolerates urbanised settings. As such, it is an unlikely victim of habitat degradation and fragmentation. The unexpected loss in genetic diversity in this common species, largely due to urbanisation and human-mediated changes, indicates that the modern environmental crisis can generate adverse silent effects that only become apparent much later, when the impact of low genetic diversity may take hold in a population,” explained Assistant Professor Frank Rheindt from the NUS Department of Biological Sciences, leader of the laboratory group that conducted the study.

“This phenomenon has been characterised as extinction debt, when actual extinction occurs with a time lag, long after the critical damage was done. Hence, an increased understanding of baseline levels and rates of loss of genetic diversity across organismic groups like Cynopterus brachyotis bats and habitats may, in the future, become imperative for informed conservation action,” he added.

This research was conducted in collaboration with the National Parks Board (NParks) Singapore which supported the sampling of contemporaneous populations of the bats. The findings were published in the journal Current Biology on 16 December 2019.

“Our research also underscores the importance of strong museum collections facilitating the DNA-sampling of time series. More global support is needed for modern cryo-collections, which are generally under-funded,” said Asst Prof Rheindt.

Asst Prof Rheindt is looking to extend the research by investigating multiple other animal species in Singapore and Southeast Asia to better characterise extinction risk.

New nature reserve for Bonaire island bats

This 5 September 2019 video says about itself:

Safeguarding Nature Projects – Bonaire – Caves & Karst Nature Reserve

Julianka Clarenda is visiting Fernando Simal of WILDCONSCIENCE and The Caribbean Speleological Society (CARIBSS) to see the Caves & Karst Nature Reserve.

This project of the Public Entity Bonaire in cooperation with WILDCONSCIENCE and The Caribbean Speleological Society (CARIBSS) is funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV).

Movie commissioned by DCNA, on behalf of Ministry of LNV, produced by B-onair.

Local authorities of Bonaire island in the Caribbean reported, 17 December 2019 (translated):

Caves & Karst Reserve on Bonaire. The 31-hectare park that comprises a special cave system with a colony of bats is an initiative of the local organization Wild Conscience and the Caribbean Speleological Society. …

Bonaire has around 200 caves, some of which are delivery rooms for the 7 bat species. They contribute significantly to the biodiversity of the island that has been a special municipality of the Netherlands since 2010.

American little brown bat conservation

This 2017 video from Canada is called Endangered Ontario: Little brown bat.

From the Ecological Society of America in the USA:

Bats in attics might be necessary for conservation

Buildings are vital summer roosting places for little brown bat maternity colonies in Yellowstone National Park

November 19, 2019

For the little brown bat — a small mouse-eared bat with glossy brown fur — a warm, dry place to roost is essential to the species’ survival. Reproductive females huddle their small furry bodies together to save thermal energy during maternity season (summer), forming “maternity colonies.” In the face of severe population losses across North America, summer access to an attic or other permanent sheltered structure, as opposed to just trees or rock crevices, is a huge benefit to these bats.

In a new study published in the Ecological Society of America’s journal Ecosphere, researchers with Ohio University, University of Kentucky, and the US National Park Service investigate and describe the conservation importance of buildings relative to natural, alternative roosts for little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) in Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone’s iconic high-elevation landscape provides abundant natural roosting places but not many buildings. The study involved four visitor areas with several buildings that are known to host bold little brown bats, which are among the few bat species that will make their homes in structures that are actively used by people, allowing humans to get up close and personal. Sometimes, the investigation even involved researchers capturing them by hand.

“We occasionally entered attics to look to see if they were occupied by bats,” says lead study author Joseph Johnson, an assistant professor of vertebrate biology at Ohio University. “On these occasions we sometimes took the opportunity presented by inactive bats… We would gently pluck them from the walls and glue a transmitter on them in order to study their thermoregulation, but also to let them lead us to additional roosts.”

Over the summers of 2012-2015, researchers tracked individual bats in the park. Using temperature-sensitive radio-transmitters, the researchers measured roost preferences and body temperature regulation in adult male and female bats roosting in buildings, trees, and rocks.

Their results show that reproductive females roost in attics in the study area on 84% of all days for which they collected data, while males roost exclusively in rock crevices or trees. It appears then that outside of maternity colonies, adult males and non-reproductive females will roost by themselves or in small aggregations.

The idea and study of bats using buildings is not new; people have probably seen bats in buildings ever since humans first started building them. What is new is comparing the benefits buildings provide bats with the benefits of alternative natural roosts. “That was what we did in our research,” Johnson says, “using the challenging environment of Yellowstone National Park as a lens through which to view these benefits. As populations of bats continue to decline in North America, we believe that highlighting the importance of buildings to bats is important for conservation.”

Outside Yellowstone and national parks, people frequently evict bats from their buildings. The removal of bats, especially maternity colonies that allow females to conserve warmth and energy, is a conservation concern as white-nose syndrome (WNS) continues to devastate populations in cave-hibernating bat populations across the continent.

WNS is named for a distinct white fungal growth around the muzzle and on wings of hibernating bats — it is the first known pathogen that kills a mammal host during hibernation. The fungus erodes skin and membranes and causes infected bats to burn through energy and fat reserves twice as fast as healthy individuals, and it essentially results in starvation. WNS fungus only thrives in the cold, damp environments typically associated with underground hibernation sites such as caves and mines, and it only grows on bats when they hibernate during winter. Bats that do survive WNS are particularly weak come spring and summer.

“To date, there have been no signs of WNS in these buildings or in Yellowstone, although the fungus has now been documented both east and west of the Park,” says Johnson. If WNS is present in the study area, the researchers expect to see a sharp reduction in the number of bats present during the summer. “Thankfully,” he says, “we have not seen any such decline as of yet.”

Another complication for little brown bats is a state of body temperature regulation called “torpor.” It can be thought of as a form of hibernation, but on a daily scale. In spring through fall, the little brown bat enters a state of decreased physiological activity. Torpor saves energy for the bat when the ambient temperature gets too cool (yes, even in summer). Instead of expending energy and fat reserves to maintain a constant body temperature, torpor allows the body to cool close to their roost temperature and physiological activity to slow. While in torpor, a bat’s heart rate drops from up to 210 beats per minute to as few as 8 beats per minute.

For a pregnant bat, however, their ability to regulate body temperature decreases. Torpor also slows gestation and delays the birth of offspring, potentially forcing juvenile bats to mature quickly before winter arrives, and therefore decreasing survival rates of new generations.

The study confirms that male bats roosting in rocks and trees largely allow their body temperature to dip close to the ambient temperature. Female bats in buildings, on the other hand, sustain higher body temperatures than males throughout the day, thanks to buildings being more insulated from low ambient temperatures during the middle of the maternity season.

Ultimately, the importance of buildings to bats may be especially great at high elevations and latitudes. The researchers believe that buildings allow for larger populations of little brown bats than would be possible without buildings in these landscapes, and that conservation managers need to evaluate the conservation value of buildings for bat populations as WNS continues to grow and spread.

“This warmth is important for bats during the summer months to help with their reproductive efforts,” emphasizes Johnson. “Bats surviving WNS and trying to recover might benefit from a warm roost tremendously.”