Applied Zoology and Nature Conservation
Echolot GbR - Büro für Fledermauskunde, Landschaftsökologie und Umweltbildung
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Localization and use of hibernacula in temperate zone bats
As a landscape ecologist and working as a consultant specialized on interferences in bat habitats to prevent violation against species protection law, I am very interested in understanding the challenging and complicated connections between the seasonally changing habitats and roosts within the life cycle of temperate zone bats. Within this increasingly threatened landscape network, underground sites are especially crucial for bats to survive the winter as they offer bats a safe place to hibernate and thereby avoid prolonged periods of inclement weather and the lack of food.
Within this rapidly changing environment characterized by intensive land-use, habitat destruction, light pollution, insect biomass loss and climate change, temperate zone bats are considered to face species specific and perhaps even sex and age dependent consequences of changing conditions. For this reason it is especially important to understand how the localization and use of hibernacula works for bats, in order to implement expedient bat protection plans and compensation measures. Against this background one of my aims is to find out how juvenile bats find their hibernacula, which may be up to dozens of kilometers away from the summer roost where they are born. Do young bats follow their mothers or other summer colony members? Do they find their hibernacula of their own? To answer these questions we individually mark Natterer`s bats with PITtags within their maternity colonies and record them with automated readers at their hibernacula. Additionally, we take wing punches to determine their family relationship.
My second interest lies in understanding the hibernation timing of Natterer`s and Daubenton`s bats which use the same hibernaculum but utilize different foraging strategies and diets as well as mating systems and reproduction times. This only can be studied by collecting individualized long-term data. We compile such data by marking both species with PITtags and continuously recording their activity at hibernacula automatically since several years. Finally I am interested in whether bats show lifelong site fidelity to their hibernaculum or if they change their winter roosts throughout their lives. To answer this question is especially important to critically scrutinize the implementation of artificial hibernacula as functioning compensation measures.
Halczok, T., Fischer, K., Gierke, R., Zeus, V., Meier, F., Tress, C., Balkema-Buschmann, A., Puechmaille, S. & Kerth, G. (2017): Evidence for genetic variation in Natterer's bats (Myotis nattereri) across three regions in Germany but no evidence for co-variation with their associated astroviruses BMC Evolutionary Biology 17:5 DOI 10.1186/s12862-016-0856-0.
Stumpf, M., Meier, F., Grosche, L., Halczok, T.K., van Schaik, J. & Kerth, G. (in press): How do young bats find suitable swarming and hibernation sites? Assessing the plausibility of the maternal guidance hypothesis using genetic maternity assignment for two European bat species. Acta Chiropterologica.