Dr. Christine Reusch

Applied Zoology and Nature Conservation

Loitzer Str. 26
17489 Greifswald


Research Interests

Costs, benefits and constraints of responses to recent climate change in bats

Recent studies predict increasing temperatures within the next decades and a higher frequency of extreme weather events. There are ongoing studies to estimate the consequences of those environmental changes, but still little is known about the impact of changing environmental variables on the fitness of various organisms.
Within the framework of the Research Training Group “RESPONSE” my research project focuses on bats and how they cope with changing environments. Bats are for several reasons outstanding among mammals. One reason is their exceptional longevity compared to other mammals of their size. However, the combination of longevity and a low fecundity might slow down genetic adaptation to environmental changes in bats. Therefore, it is important to investigate how different environmental parameters (e.g. temperature, precipitation) and life history traits (e.g. fecundity, size and age) impact mortality of bats.
The main part of my work will be the analysis of individual based long-term data sets of the species Natterer’s bat (Myotis nattereri), Daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentonii) and brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus). During my PhD project I will for example address the following questions: 1. Do bats adapt their behavior (for example hibernation strategies, group size) regarding to environmental changes? 2. Does hibernation behavior influence mortality and survival of M. nattereri and M. daubentonii? 3. How do increasing temperatures influence body size? E.g., do the three bat species increase their body size due to higher food abundance during warmer years? And how does body size affect mortality? 4. Does local adaptation or species affiliation play a bigger role in the ability of bats to cope with changing environments?
The results will allow us to draw conclusions concerning M. nattereri, M. daubentonii and P. auritus, three protected bat species, and to identify their responses to recent climate change. Depending on the uniformity of the results it might be possible to gain knowledge about temperate bats with a similar ecology in general. This will help us to contribute to a better protection and conservation of bats.


  • Reusch, C., Gampe, J., Scheuerlein, A., Meier, F., Grosche, L. & Kerth, K. (in press). Differences in seasonal survival suggest species-specific reactions to climate change in two sypatric bat species. Ecology and Evolution.
  • Zeus V.M., Reusch C., Kerth G. (2018). Long-term roosting data reveal an unimodular social network in large fission-fusion society of the colony-living Natterer's bat (Myotis nattereri). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 72: 99


GRK 2010 Biological RESPONSEs to Novel and Changing Envrironments