Common pipistrelle bat video

This is a common pipistrelle bat video.


Wildlife fights back against Brazilian rainforest devastation

This video, in Portuguese, is called Bat Cave Brazil 2014. It shows also other rainforest animals, like a sloth and a snake.

From the University of Salford in England:

Species make comeback 30 years after rainforest devastation

February 28, 2018

Rainforest loss is fuelling a tsunami of tropical species extinctions. However, not all is doom and gloom.

A new study, conducted in the Brazilian Amazon, suggests that ecological cataclysms prompted by the fragmentation of the forest can be reverted by the regeneration of secondary forests, offering a beacon of hope for tropical forest biodiversity across the world.

The international team of researchers found that species strongly associated with primary forest were heavily depleted after 15 years of man-made disruption including the burning and clearing of forest stands.

However, 30 years down the line, and with the regeneration of secondary regrowth, many of the species that had abandoned the area had made a comeback.

“If you compare the time periods, it is apparent that taking a long-term view is paramount to uncovering the complexity of biodiversity in human-modified landscapes”, said senior researcher Dr Christoph Meyer, lecturer in global ecology and conservation at the University of Salford.

The study measured the impacts of forest break-up of 50 species of bat (approx. 6,000 animals).

Bats comprise roughly one fifth of all mammal species and display wide variation in foraging behaviour and habitat use, making them an excellent model group for the research.

“The responses exhibited by bats offer important insights into the responses of other taxonomic groups”, says Ricardo Rocha, lead author of the study from the University of Lisbon.

“The recovery that we have documented mirrors the patterns observed for beetle and bird communities within the Amazon.

“These parallel trends reinforce the idea that the benefits of forest regeneration are widespread, and suggest that habitat restoration can ameliorate some of the harm inflicted by humans on tropical wildlife”, he adds.

The results of the current study contrast with the catastrophic faunal declines observed during a similar time window in rodent communities in the ‘forest islands’ of the Chiew Larn reservoir in Thailand.

“The recovery observed at the Amazon was mostly due to the recolonization of previously deforested areas and forest fragments by old-growth specialist bats. This recolonization is likely attributable to an increased diversity and abundance of food resources in areas now occupied by secondary forest, fulfilling the energetic requirements of a larger set of species”, explains Rocha.

However, the short-term nature of most studies has substantially impaired the capacity of researchers to properly capture the intricate time-related complexities associated with the effects of forest fragmentation on wildlife.

The Amazon study was conducted at the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, jointly run by the Smithsonian Institute and the Brazilian Institute for Research in the Amazon.

How bats survive viruses

This video says about itself:

All About Bats for Kids: Animal Videos for Children – FreeSchool

29 October 2015

Bats may fly in the night, but there’s no reason to fear these amazing mammals! Bats are one of the most common types of mammals on the planet and live on almost every continent. Most bats eat insects, some eat fruit, some eat nectar, and a few even eat blood. They are amazing creatures: not only are they the only flying mammal, but they also use echolocation to find their food and navigate in total darkness. Bats are cool!

From ScienceDaily:

How bats carry viruses without getting sick

February 22, 2018

Bats are known to harbor highly pathogenic viruses like Ebola, Marburg, Hendra, Nipah, and SARS-CoV, and yet they do not show clinical signs of disease. In a paper published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe on February 22, scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China find that in bats, an antiviral immune pathway called the STING-interferon pathway is dampened, and bats can maintain just enough defense against illness without triggering a heightened immune reaction.

“We believe there is a balance between bats and the pathogens they carry”, says senior author Peng Zhou. “This work demonstrated that in order to maintain a balance with viruses, bats may have evolved to dampen certain pathways.”

In humans and other mammals, an immune-based over-response to one of these and other pathogenic viruses can trigger severe illness. For example, in humans, an activated STING pathway is linked with severe autoimmune diseases.

“In human history, we have been chasing infectious diseases one after another,” says Zhou, “but bats appear to be a ‘super-mammal’ to these deadly viruses.” By identifying a weakened but not defunct STING pathway, researchers have some new insight into how bats fine-tune antiviral defenses to balance an effective, but not an overt, response against viruses.

The authors hypothesize that this defense strategy evolved as part of three interconnected features of bat biology: they are flying mammals, have a long lifespan, and host a large viral reservoir. “Adaptation to flight likely caused positive selection of multiple bat innate immune and DNA damage repair genes,” Zhou says. These adaptations may have shaped certain antiviral pathways (STING, interferon, and others) to make them good viral reservoir hosts and achieve a tolerable balance.

Big fossil bat discovery in New Zealand

This video says about itself:

Fossils Reveal Giant New Species of Burrowing Bat: Vulcanops jennyworthyae

11 January 2018

Paleontologists say they’ve found the fossilized remains of a new genus and species of bat that lived in New Zealand between 19 and 16 million years ago (Early Miocene epoch).

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Giant extinct burrowing bat unearthed in New Zealand by palaeontologists

Discovery highlights the diversity of life that has been lost from the island nation

Josh Gabbatiss, Science Correspondent

Thursday 11 January 2018 18:15 GMT

Palaeontologists have discovered teeth and bones belonging to an ancient species of burrowing bat.

The species, named Vulcanops jennyworthyae, inhabited New Zealand around 16 million years ago.

Burrowing bats are a unique group of mammals only found in New Zealand.

These animals not only fly, but crawl along the ground too, and are equipped with specialised claws that enable them to do so.

Vulcanops is the biggest burrowing bat ever found – although it still only weighed around 40 grams.

The finding was described in the journal Scientific Reports.

“Burrowing bats are more closely related to bats living in South America than to others in the south-west Pacific,” said Professor Sue Hand, the first author of the study describing the new species, and a palaeontologist at the University of New South Wales.

Specifically, Prof Hand said burrowing bats such as Vulcanops are related to vampire bats.

However, unlike its blood-feeding cousins, the teeth of this new species suggest it consumed plant material as well as small creatures.

The scientists said the discovery served as a reminder of the diversity of life that has been lost from New Zealand.

“These bats, along with land turtles and crocodiles, show that major groups of animals have been lost from New Zealand”, said study co-author Professor Paul Scofield, of Canterbury Museum.

“They show that the iconic survivors of this lost fauna – the tuataras, moas, kiwi, acanthisittid wrens, and leiopelmatid frogs – evolved in a far more complex community that hitherto thought.”

Many bats used to inhabit New Zealand, but climate fluctuations are thought to have led to the ultimate demise of all but two species, which still survive today.

While the nation is still home to a diverse array of bird species, the two remaining bats are the only mammals to still inhabit the island that were not introduced by humans.

How young bats learn language

This video from the USA says about itself:

Bat Biology in Pennsylvania. Part 1 of 2

17 February 2010

A day in the field with Pennsylvania biologist Greg Turner. Filmed in an iron ore mine near Danville PA. Film and music by Van Wagner.

This video is the sequel.

From PLOS Biology:

Young bats learn bat ‘dialects’ from their nestmates

Language acquisition not limited to human beings

Young bats adopt a specific “dialect” spoken by their own colonies, even when this dialect differs from the bat “mother tongue,” a new study publishing 31 October in the open access journal PLOS Biology shows. By offering insight into the evolutionary origins of language acquisition skills, the study, led by Dr. Yossi Yovel of Tel Aviv University, and his students Yosef Prat and Lindsay Azoulay, calls into question the uniqueness of this skill in humans.

For the research, the team raised 14 pups with their mothers in three different colonies. In these laboratory colonies, the scientists used speakers to play three specific subsets of natural bat vocalizations. The researchers exposed the young bats to the recordings over a period of one year, until they reached adulthood.

Although the young bats were exposed to their mothers’ ‘normal’ dialect and could communicate with their mothers, each group developed a dialect resembling the one they were exposed to through the recordings.

“The difference between the vocalizations of the mother bat and those of the colony are akin to a London accent and, say, a Scottish accent,” Dr. Yovel explains. “The pups heard their mothers’ ‘London’ dialect, but also heard the ‘Scottish’ dialect mimicked by many dozens of ‘Scottish’ bats. The pups eventually adopted a dialect that was more similar to the local ‘Scottish’ dialect than to the ‘London’ accent of their mothers.”

“The ability to learn vocalizations from others is extremely important for speech acquisition in humans, but it’s believed to be rare among animals,” Dr. Yovel says. “Researchers have believed that this is what makes human language unique.

Songbirds are the most common animal models for ‘vocal learning,” and they learn songs from specific tutors. These studies typically indicate that a bird learns to sing from one parent. But this study shows that bats listen and learn from an entire colony of several hundred bats, not just from their parents. “In other words,” says Yovel, “young bats pick up the dialect vocalized by their surrounding roost-mates.”

The researchers will next examine how the acquisition of a new dialect influences the ability of bats to integrate into foreign colonies. “Will they adopt the local dialect or will they be rejected by the group? Or maybe the local colony will change its dialect to adopt that of our bats,” Dr. Yovel says. “There are many interesting avenues yet to explore.”

‘Vampire’ animals feeding on blood

This video says about itself:

7 June 2012

When it comes to feeding, this thumb-sized bat definitely sides with Dracula. Vampire bats are the only mammals on an all-blood diet — and an unsuspecting cow is the perfect prey.

By Susan Milius, 4:00pm, October 30, 2017:

Scary as they are, few vampires have a backbone

Only a handful of the world’s vampires are vertebrates

Halloween horror aside, vampires are really pretty spineless.

Most have no backbone at all. By one count, some 14,000 kinds of arthropods, including ticks and mosquitoes, are blood feeders. Yet very few vertebrates are clear-cut, all-blood specialists: just some fishes and three bats. Why hasn’t evolution produced more vertebrate vampires?

The question intrigues herpetologist Harry Greene of Cornell University, who “can’t think of a single example among amphibians and reptiles,” he says. (Some birds are opportunists, sneaks or outright meat eaters, but they don’t have the extreme specialization of bats).

Kurt Schwenk of the University of Connecticut in Storrs, who studies feeding morphology, comes up empty, as well. As he muses over what animals might have precursor biology that could lead to blood feeding, “a leechlike or lamprey-like blood-sucking tadpole should be a real possibility,” he says. The idea gives him “the heebie-jeebies,” but some tadpole species have already evolved mouths that can cling, and plenty of tadpoles are carnivorous.

Looking at the question from a different point of view — asking what would favor, or not, the evolution of blood feeding—he comes up with a less disturbing answer. For carnivorous animals, eating meat is nutritionally better than sipping blood alone, he says. So vampirism might not offer much of an advantage. “If you don’t need to be light and you’re not a parasite,” he says, there’s “no point in limiting yourself to blood.” So maybe vampiric tadpoles aren’t part of some creepy future after all.

Some adult fishes have evolved blood feeding, even mainstream vertebrates with jaws and bones (unlike cartilage-only jawless lampreys). Among the clear-cut bony examples are some Vandellia canidru catfishes, which fasten onto a gill of a much larger fish and let the fish heart pump sustenance into them as they nestle inside the protected gill chamber. (This is different from the supposed, or maybe mythical, tendency of some canidru catfishes to misunderstand fluid streams and swim up the urethras of humans in the water).

Among vertebrates, vampirism inside or outside of gills might have arisen from ancestors that hitchhiked on big fishes and nibbled off parasites, in the same way modern remoras (also known as suckerfish) do, suggests parasitologist Tommy Leung of the University of New England in Armidale, Australia. Biologists already know about parasite-picker species, such as some cleaner fish, that will cheat and nip mucus or scales if they can get them. Actual blood-sucking cheats could be mere geologic ages away from that evolutionary step. Vertebrates may have relatively few vampires, but a greater number of almost-vampires.

Full-scale vampirism “is a tough way to make a living,” says William Schutt of Long Island University in Brookville, NY, and author of a book on the topic, Dark Banquet. But also, he adds, one big reason why there are fewer vertebrate vampires than arthropod bloodsuckers may be in the numbers. There are just fewer vertebrates: an estimated 60,000 versus a whopping 10 million arthropods.