Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

University of the Basque Country research team investigates species of bat that traps fish for food

23.11.2010
There are 27 species of bats identified in the Basque Country today. Twenty years ago there were hardly any records. This data reflects the fruitful work on the ecology and behavioural development of bats by the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) research team since the 90s.

The director of the team, Mr Joxerra Aihartza, took the first steps when he began drawing up a complete atlas of the distribution of bat species in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country (CAV-EAE). There are now nine biologists on the team.

As Mr Egoitz Salsamendi, member of the team, explained, they took Mr Aihartza’s research as the starting point and, “from then on, the group specialised in analysing the choice of habitat and diet”. To this end, they mainly used radio-telemetry. “We have highly specialised radio transmitters – they have to be very small in order to attach them to the animals. When the transmitters are attached, we release the bats back into the cave and, when the next night they begin feeding, we can monitor them. In this way we know when and to what extent they move and what they feed on”.

Long-fingered bats partial to fish
They undertook the study within the CAV-EAE but also outside its boundaries. In fact their relation with certain researchers in Valencia gave the team members the opportunity to participate in a surprising discovery: the curious eating habits of a Mediterranean species known as the long-fingered bat (Myotis capaccini). According to Mr Salsamendi, “it was thought that in Europe all bats were insectivores but, on analysing the diet of this bat, we discovered in their faeces the vertebrae and scales of fish”.

They thus showed that this species of bat eat fish but, as Joxerra Aihartza himself explained, it was needed to show that it was the bats themselves who were catching the fish: “We controlled their movements for a number of days using a tent where we had left fish and we observed that they did, in fact, catch live fish”. Their staple diet are the insects inhabiting the surface of the water, “but there is an ecological reason that explains this fishing behaviour: when the pools of water in a cave start drying up, the fish concentrate at their surface and they are easy to catch”, added Mr Salsamendi. Ostaizka Aizpurua, member of the team, has begun to write a PhD thesis on the species.

Necessity for caves and suitable habitats
Thanks to the great quantity of work undertaken abroad, but above all at home, in order to get to know the ecology of bats, the team were also able to identify the risk factors that put their existence at risk. For example, they know that at least two species of bat, of the 27 identified in the Basque Country, are endangered. They observed that, amongst those species inhabiting caves, one of the principal risk factors is the loss of refuges. “Bats require places with very special microclimatic conditions. Some choose a cave for their litter for its characteristics, but use another to hibernate in. Some bats are very exigent with these conditions and create very large colonies in such caves. These places have to be cared for – there is no replacement for them”, stated Mr Aihartza. He added that humans are doing precisely the opposite.

The biologist also underlined that the habitat is a fundamental factor, given that bats need a great variety and quantity of insects.

In this sense, Mr Aihartza pointed out that pine tree management and the use of pesticides such as Dimilin cause considerable damage, and not only affect the conservation of the bats: “Bats are very good indicators of the state of health of habitats. A prosperous habitat provides refuge to a prosperous community of bats. The protection of bats guarantees the protection of the habitat - each needs the other”.

In relation to this, and as requested by government bodies, the team carried out a number of management plans, but Mr Aihartza states that no notice has been taken of them: “The species continue as bad as before, or even worse, and this is our main concern”.

Investigating virology
Leaving the questions of protection to one side, the research team has continued to be involved in a number of projects. For example, they are carrying out an in-depth study of the ecology of the three long-eared species dwelling in the Pyrenees and their cohabitation.

Mr Aihartza also mentioned “a large-scale project” for the coming years: “According to data revealed in recent years, a number of diseases have appeared in bats that substantially affect humans. For example, bats could be carriers of the African Ebola virus”. Thus, they are also studying, in conjunction with other teams, the virology of bats.

Amaia Portugal | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.elhuyar.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement
26.06.2017 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

nachricht New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>