A pregnant female brown long-eared bat is the first of its species to be found on the islands for at least 40 years. It was discovered by Dr Fiona Mathews, Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter, a postgraduate student and a team from the Wiltshire Bat Group.
The Scilly Isles Bat Group called in Dr Mathews and her team to help them find out more about bats on the islands. The researchers set up a radiotracking study, with funding from the Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to monitor the islands' bat activity.The team solved the mystery of the annual disappearance of the large common pipistrelle colony on St Mary's by finding that the bats had moved to a new site. They also discovered that there were brown-long eared bats roosting in a pine tree.
Brown long-eareds were last seen on the Isles of Scilly in the 1960s. Known as 'the whispering bat', these animals rely less on echolocation than other British bats and use their remarkably large ears to detect the sounds of caterpillars and their other prey on leaves. Because they only come out to fly when it is too dark to see them, and their calls are too quiet to be picked up on 'bat detectors', they are virtually impossible to detect using standard survey methods. The bats are very reliant on woodland, which is in short supply on the islands.
Dr Mathews continued: "We found this individual roosting in an old split Monterey pine tree planted by the shore as a wind-break, and feeding along avenues of elm trees. Now we know the bats are there, local conservation organisations can start to improve the habitat for them. This includes planting the tree species that attract night-flying insects, restricting lighting in key areas as it discourages the bats from coming out to feed, and ensuring that new trees are planted to replace the dying ones along the coastline.
"In addition, much can be done to provide suitable places for them to have their babies. Bats can live for over 20 years but breed very slowly. Because they do not build nests, the mothers must find locations which will keep their babies warm during the night whilst the adults leave the roost to feed. They will happily use lofts and bat boxes, as well as tree holes. The last known colony on the Isles of Scilly disappeared when their roosting site in a building was lost and now we have a chance to reverse their fortunes."
Mike Gurr, Chair of the Scilly Isles Bat Group added: "Since the formation of the IOS Bat Group in 2006, we have had sound evidence only for common pipistrelles being permanent residents and breeding in Scilly. This joint research project has confirmed the long-suspected presence of soprano pipistrelles as well but, most exciting of all, we now know for sure that we have brown long-eared bats living and breeding here. The work demonstrates what several people had long felt to be the case but could not prove. Studying these lovely creatures will be one of the IOS Bat Group's priorities for the next few years".
About brown long-eared bats (Plecotus auritus)
- Brown long-eared bats have ears that are three quarters the length of their head and body
- The bats fold their ears over when they are resting
- They fly close to the ground so are vulnerable to predation from domestic cats
- Their diet is largely composed of moths and caterpillars
- The brown long-eared bat is one of 18 bat species known to live in the UK.
Sarah Hoyle | EurekAlert!
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy