Bats wintering in snow, video


This video says about itself:

Watch Rare Video of Bats Hibernating in Snow Dens | National Geographic Wild

24 August 2018

Ussurian tube-nosed bats spend the coldest months in snow-covered dens—the only mammal species known to do so besides polar bears.

Evidence for Ussurian tube-nosed bats (Murina ussuriensis) hibernating in snow: here.

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Vampire bats in Mexico, video


This 23 July 2018 video says about itself:

Follow Mexico’s ‘Bat Man’ on a Search for Vampire Bats | Short Film Showcase

University of Mexico Professor of Ecology Rodrigo Medellin travels deep into the Yucatan rainforest with National Geographic Photographer Anand Varma in an effort to research and photograph two rare carnivorous species of Vampire bat.

New bat species discovery in Kenya


This 13 July 2018 video is called 2 Lemon-Yellow Bat Species Discovered in Africa. And They’re Adorable Fuzz Balls.

From the Field Museum in the USA:

Fuzzy yellow bats reveal evolutionary relationships in Kenya

July 12, 2018

Summary: DNA analysis of fuzzy yellow bats in Kenya revealed at least two new species unknown to science. It’s important because Africa’s biodiversity is often under-studied and poorly understood, even though bats play a crucial role in agriculture and public health.

After Halloween, people tend to forget about bats. But, for farmers, residents of Kenya, and scientists, bats are a part of everyday life. While North America has 44 species, Kenya, a country the size of Texas, has 110 bat species. Many of these species also contain subspecies and further divisions that can make the bat family tree look like a tangled mess. Researchers set out to cut the clutter by sorting the lineages of yellow house bats and in the process found two new species.

The bats of Scotophilus vary in size and other characteristics but, in general, “They’re cute. They look a lot like the bats you see in Chicago but they’re this great yellow color”, says Terry Demos, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Chicago’s Field Museum and lead author of a recent paper in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. These furry creatures can roost in the nooks and crannies of homes in Kenya. “These are bats that live with people — they don’t call them house bats for nothing”, adds Bruce Patterson, MacArthur Curator of Mammals at the Field Museum and co-author of the study. Bats usually don’t fly too far to find a home either. Despite having wings, bats prefer to stay in a specific region, resulting in huge amounts of diversity throughout Africa.

Before understanding how these bat species related to one another, it was difficult to even research them. “We were using three different names for these bats in the field”, says Patterson. That kind of evolutionary confusion is enough to make anyone batty. As Demos and Patterson explain, bats that look very similar could have wildly different genetic information. This means that new species could be hiding in plain sight due to their physical similarities to other species. The only way to solve this mystery is to use cutting-edge genetic analysis techniques.

Skin samples collected from the field in Kenya, combined with information from an online genetic database, provided clarity to species confusion. Comparing all the DNA sequences of the samples showed the amount of similarity. The more similar the DNA, the closer species are to each other evolutionarily. This information was then used to make a chart that looks like a tree, with branches coming off one point. The tree is similar to a family tree, but instead of showing the relationships between different family members, it shows the relationships between species. The results accomplished the goal of finding the limits of species but also showed unexpected results. Besides sorting the known species, the tree predicted at least two new bat species. “These new species are unknown to science”, says Demos. “There was no reason to expect that we’d find two new species there.” When Patterson saw these two undescribed species, he got excited: “It’s cool because it says there’s a chapter of evolution that no one’s stumbled across before.”

These findings are not only interesting to scientists but to the local farming industry. Organic groceries at Trader Joe’s would be next to impossible without bats. They act as a natural pesticide, eating insects that threaten crops. Besides farmers, local health officials also rely on bat research because bats can be disease vectors that threaten public health. Being able to understand bats means that scientists can protect public health and plates of food.

This unexpected finding attests to the diversity of life in Kenya and other tropical locales in Africa. The variety of species in these regions is not ye described because, “Africa is understudied, and its biodiversity is underestimated, and it’s critical because there are threats to its biodiversity”, says Demos. This research gives a framework for future scientists to categorize species of bats and describe new species.

In the United States, because our bats are well researched, there is an app that can recognize bat calls, kind of like Shazam for bats. Patterson plays bat sounds off his phone: “I recorded this in my driveway and an app was able to identify the bat. This is what we want to be able to do in the field someday.” The next step in this research is using the genetic analysis of Scotophilus bats as a framework that allows scientists to categorize and eventually recognize species based on observable features, such as the chirps, squeaks, and sounds human ears can’t hear.

Demos notes that it is important to better understand these mysterious flying mammals to help conservation and local farming efforts. This study surveying Kenya paves the way for exploring other regions using the same methods. Science has brought us closer to understanding how bat species relate to one another, but Patterson says there is still more to discover — “No interesting biological questions are ever fully answered, and progress towards answering them invariably opens up a variety of others.”

See also here.

Rare bat rediscovered on Okinawa island


Yanbaru whiskered bat, photo by Kyoto University / Jason Preble

From Kyoto University in Japan:

Capturing of the rare Yanbaru whiskered bat

Finding is first since initial discovery 22 years ago

April 27, 2018

The critically endangered Yanbaru whiskered bat, Myotis yanbarensis, has been caught for the first time on Okinawa Island since its discovery 22 years ago. Kyoto University doctoral student Jason Preble succeeded in the capture on the night of 20 February, during a survey in the Yanbaru Forest in the north of Okinawa‘s main island.

The rare bat species was first discovered in the subtropical Yanbaru Forest in 1996, when two specimens were collected. It was later observed on a few occasions on the islands Tokunoshima and Amami-Oshima, but no sightings were reported again on Okinawa Island.

This small tree-dwelling bat, endemic to these islands, thus became a serious conservation concern and was declared ‘critically endangered’, the highest risk level, by both the Japanese Ministry of Environment and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

On 20 February 2018 at 20:05, Preble captured one male Myotis yanbarensis weighing 4.9 g and apparently in good health. Three nights later he caught a second male bat weighing 5.2 g. Upon release, he tracked these individuals using VHF transmitters. A third male was also caught four days later. The captures took place in the former United States military Northern Training Area, facilitated by a high-tech acoustic lure that broadcasts synthesized bat calls.

Moreover, Preble was able to record the bat’s echolocation call, vital data that was previously unreported.

This large area of forest was returned to Japan in December 2016, and Kyoto University’s Island Bat Research Group, led by Christian Vincenot, was among the first teams to be granted access by the Ministry of Environment, Okinawa Forestry Office, and Aha Dam authority.

The presence of the Yanbaru whiskered bat indicates that this zone, which was off limits for over a half-century, may have served as an unintended wildlife sanctuary. This discovery revives hope for conservation of this rare species, while also suggesting that Myotis yanbarensis may be range-restricted to a small part of the Yanbaru Forest and therefore may continue to be at risk of local extinction.

Extreme caution is therefore advised in the management of this area, which is currently a candidate for UNESCO Natural Heritage status. Bats are often highly sensitive to infrastructure development, as seen in the steep decline in endangered populations following the construction in 2013 of a new airport runway over bat caves on Ishigaki island, also in the Okinawan archipelago.

Bats and primates, video


This video says about itself:

Are Bats Flying Primates?

8 April 2018

Bats are absolutely incredible animals. They’re highly unique creatures that possess the extraordinary ability of powered flight. It’s long been thought that every bat species must have descended from a common ancestor but, during the 1980s, a very interesting and controversial idea about bat evolution came to prominence; the ‘Flying Primate’ hypothesis.

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.