OPINION LETTER: Fear of Bats and its Consequences

Merlin D. Tuttle

There is a well-established body of evidence indicating that people seldom protect, and often despise, or even kill, animals they fear (Knight 2008, Johansson et al. 2011, 2016, Frank et al. 2014). This makes bats exceptionally vulnerable. Throughout history, they have been objects of fear and hostility across many cultures, arguably due to their nocturnal and elusive behavior (Kingston 2016). Also, biased media coverage has framed bats as exceptionally dangerous virus reservoirs, generating frightening headlines worldwide, that are jeopardizing decades of conservation progress (López-Baucells et al. 2017)…

Confirmation of the presence of Plecotus macrobullaris Kuzyakin, 1965 in Liguria (North-West Italy) (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae)

Mara Calvini, Roberto Toffoli

Abstract: We present the second confirmed record of the Alpine Long-eared Bat, Plecotus macrobullaris in Liguria, province of Imperia (NW Italy) on the basis of a male Plecotus found dead in Sanremo. The specific attribution of the specimen was based on the morphological characters and subsequently confirmed through genetic analysis of the mitochondrial COI DNA barcoding sequence. This record suggests the tendency of the species to occupy areas at lower altitudes in coastal areas close to the mountains, as well as confirms the presence of the species in this part of the region after 45 years. This new report extends the distribution range of P. macrobullaris further eastward than it was previously known. In order to know the real distribution of this species and acquire enough data to assess its conservation status, it would be essential to conduct more research targeting this species in future projects.

Conservación de colonias reproductoras de murciélagos cavernícolas mediante refugios artificiales // Conservation of breeding colonies of cave-dwelling bats using man-made roosts

Juan Tomás Alcalde, Iñaki Martínez, Aritz Zaldua, Inmaculada Antón

Abstract: Los murciélagos requieren refugios específicos donde establecer sus colonias reproductoras. Aunque generalmente utilizan refugios naturales, en muchas ocasiones también ocupan construcciones humanas siempre que mantengan determinadas condiciones ambientales y carezcan de molestias. En Acedo (Navarra, Norte de España) tres edificios de una piscifactoría en desuso eran utilizados por alrededor de 300 murciélagos adultos de cuatro especies para criar (Rhinolophus hipposideros, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, Myotis emarginatus y Pipistrellus pipistrellus). Los edificios fueron retirados en octubre de 2013 para restaurar el lugar. En julio de 2014 se instalaron dos casetas-refugio específicamente diseñadas para albergar las colonias de murciélagos junto con tres cajas de madera en las paredes. Las dos casetas fueron rápidamente ocupadas por los murciélagos en junio de 2015, aunque todos los M. emarginatus abandonaron el refugio en julio tras un período de canícula, y se encontraron cinco jóvenes de esta especie y otro más de R. ferrumequinum muertos. A finales de 2015, las casetas fueron acondicionadas para aislarlas del calor mediante un tejado elevado y pintura aislante. En 2016 las casetas volvieron a ser ocupadas y las colonias criaron entonces con normalidad. Además, este año el número de ejemplares fue aproximadamente el doble de los observados en censos de otros años. Las temperaturas máximas registradas en el interior de una caseta en 2016 fueron significativamente más bajas que las de 2015 y el período con temperaturas superiores a 30 oC se redujo un 69 %. Este ensayo muestra una alternativa eficaz y asequible para mantener colonias de murciélagos mediante refugios artificiales, que puede ser aplicada cuando los actuales refugios se encuentran en peligro. No obstante, es preciso tener en cuenta el posible recalentamiento de las casetas en áreas mediterráneas, por lo que se recomienda aislarlas térmicamente y colocarlas en zonas sombreadas.

Apparent spring swarming beaviour of Lesser Horseshoe Bats (Rhinolophus hipposideros)

Stephen P. Davison, Robert J. Thomas

Abstract: Bat activity is highly seasonal in temperate regions such as the British Isles, due to variation in temperature and food availability, leading to hibernation being commonly used as an overwinter survival strategy. Outside the hibernation season, European species of bats of several genera (Myotis, Barbastella and Plecotus) are known to take part in social swarming behaviours. These typically occur in autumn and are thought to be associated with mating prior to hibernation. Only one British species, the Brown Long-Eared Bat (Plecotus auritus) is known to swarm during spring. In this study, we used a combination of ultra-sonic acoustic monitoring and infra-red video surveillance, to describe seasonal activity patterns of Lesser Horseshoe Bats (Rhinolophus hipposideros) across spring-autumn of two years; 2015 and 2016. We identified a previously unknown spring peak in social activity, which occurred around caves which were known not to be used for hibernation, and occurred several weeks after the bats had emerged from hibernation in each year. Males examined during spring swarming were found to have well-developed epididymides, indicating that these individuals were in reproductive condition. This spring peak of activity is consistent with social swarming behaviour, and to our knowledge is the first record of swarming in this species and genus. We found no consistent evidence of equivalent swarming behaviour in autumn. In addition to the seasonal variation in activity, we detected positive effects of temperature and negative effects of rainfall on Lesser Horseshoe Bat activity, both during the spring swarming event, and across the study period.

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First data on bats (Chiroptera) for Vlora bay and Sazan Island, Albania

Philippe Théou, Ervis Loce

Abstract: With 32 species recorded so far, Albania is one of the most important European countries in terms of bat diversity. However available data concerning the repartition of these species within the country is still very limited. For the first time, researches on bats were conducted in a key area of the country for biodiversity : Vlora Bay. During 5 years (2012-2016), at least 16 species (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, R. hipposideros, R. blasii, R. euryale, Myotis oxygnatus, M. capaccinii, M. emarginatus, Nyctalus leisleri, N. noctula, Pipistrellus kuhlii, P. pipistrellus, P. pygmaeus, Hypsugo savii, Plecotus kolombatovici, Miniopterus schreibersii, Tadarida teniotis) were recorded in diverse habitats, including the main island of the country : Sazan Island. With this study we are providing new data for rarely recorded species such as P. kolombatovici and N. leisleri, and enriching available data on bats in the South-West Balkans. This study aims to support the implementation of conservation plans in Albania and to consolidate national monitoring of these protected species.

Recent record of Javan Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus javanicus, Gray 1838) from Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), Bangladesh

Anik Saha, Mohammed Mostafa Feeroz, Md. Kamrul Hasan

Abstract: Javan Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus javanicus), a native bat species in South Asia, was thought to be present in Bangladesh during the 90s. However, the lack of robust evidence of its occurrence has hampered its inclusion in the Bangladesh IUCN mammal checklist. In a recent survey, a colony of this bat species has been documented in Chittagong Hill Tracts, the southeastern corner of the country. For the species identification, both external and craniodental parameters were considered and compared with other specimen’s measurements from nearby countries. This manuscript confirms the distribution of Pipistrellus javanicus in Bangladesh and extends its range over South Asia.

Pleistocene bats (Mammalia, Chiroptera) from Grotta dei Pipistrelli (southeastern Sicily, Italy). Preliminary report

Maria Teresa Spena, Paolo Agnelli, Jessica Di Maita, Rosario Grasso, Agatino Reitano, Corrado Santoro, Leonardo Salari

Abstract: Seven species of bats (Mammalia, Chiroptera) have been identified in the fossil assemblage from the Grotta dei Pipistrelli (Sortino, Sicily, Italy): Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, R. euryale, R. mehelyi, Myotis myotis, M. blythii, M. capaccinii and Miniopterus schreibersii. All the recognized species are presently part of the Italian bat fauna; currently, they occur in Sicily and probably still live in the cave today. In Sicily, fossils of Chiroptera are poorly known and this work is the second study of a Pleistocene bats assemblage. In this paper, the first instance of R. euryale in Sicily, and of M. myotis and M. blythii for the central Mediterranean islands from Pleistocene are reported.

Causes of morbidity and mortality of bats in a wildlife recovery center in Portugal

Andreia Garcês, Vanessa Soeiro, Sara Lóio, Isabel Pires

Abstract: Over the last decade, research on bats has been flourishing in many aspects of their biology. An increasing number of studies focussing on infectious agents in bats are being published, especially regarding zoonotic pathogens. However, there is only limited knowledge regarding the causes of death in these animals. In fact, when bat carcasses are found, or injured bats die in recovery centers, the post-mortem examination in this group of animals is not a routine procedure. The aim of this study is to report the main causes of morbidity and mortality in free ranging bats in Portugal using bats that were submitted to the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wild Animals of Gaia’s Biological Park. During the period of three months, 20 animals were subjected to post-mortem examination. The main cause of morbidity and mortality was trauma, with lesions in the upper limbs, such as fractures and lacerations of the wing membrane. Although only a limited number of animals was included, this work intends to alert to the importance of studies concerning the causes of death in bats.

Opportunistic predation of a silky short-tailed bat (Carollia brevicauda) by a tawny-bellied screech-owl (Megascops watsonii), with a compilation of predation events upon bats entangled in mist-nets

Catarina Serra-Gonçalves, Adrià López-Baucells, Ricardo Rocha

Abstract: Bat casualties caused by opportunistic predation of entangled animals during surveys employing mist-nets are scarcely reported in the scientific literature. Consequently, predator induced mortality associated with this sampling method is probably underestimated. Here, we report a predation attempt of a silky short-tailed bat (Carollia brevicauda) by a tawny-bellied screech-owl (Megascops watsonii) while the bat was entangled in the mist-net. The event took place in the Central Brazilian Amazon and represents the first report of bat predation attempt by this owl species. Additionally, we searched the literature for published records of bat predation during mist-net surveys since 1990. Twelve publications, covering at least 15 bat species and 11 predators, have reported opportunistic predation on entangled animals. We consider that predation of entangled animals is likely underreported and we recommend than in order to reduce opportunistic predation of entangled animals, researchers should: a) periodically visit the mist-nets every 15 to 20 minutes, and b) avoid that mist-nets reach ground-level once an animal becomes trapped.

Rapid assessment of bat diversity in the biological station ‘Las Guacamayas’ (‘Laguna del Tigre’ National Park, Guatemala)

Raphaël Colombo, Audrey Pichard, Yann Gager

Abstract: As part of the world biodiversity hotspot ‘Meso-America’, the country of Guatemala hosts a minimum of 100 bat species. However, the taxonomy and the systematic of Neotropical bats have recently undergone many changes and the knowledge about species diversity and distribution remains patchy. We report here the results of a bat survey conducted in November 2010 inside the biological station ‘Las Guacamayas’ (‘Laguna del Tigre’ National Park’). We used three survey methods: roost search, mist net capture as well as ultrasound recording. On the basis of recent taxonomic knowledge, we surveyed a minimum of 25 bat species belonging to seven different families, including two new families for the National Park (Natalidae and Vespertilionidae). We have identified several systematic and taxonomic changes: Carollia brevicauda for C. sowelli, Pteronotus parnellii for P. mesoamericanus, Rhogeesaa tumida for R. bickhami / menchuae, Sturnira lilium for S. parvidens and Uroderma bilobatum for U. convexum. Mist net captures and ultrasound recordings resulted in the identification of several new species. By combining the two inventories of the National Park and taking into account the taxonomic changes, we obtained a maximum of 31 species identified so far. Our survey improves the knowledge on bat diversity and distribution in Guatemala, with implications for their conservation.

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