Spotted bats are at risk in British Columbia

A few scattered specimens of spotted bats have been found in B.C., north of where they were previously found. They are at risk, of course!

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Botany photo of the day: mammalian pollinator

Beautiful photographs show a recently discovered bat pollinating a flower with a long tube.

The flower of the plant species, Centropogon nigricans, is exclusively pollinated by the tube-lipped nectar bat, Anoura fistulata. In other words, this is an example of obligate pollination. It’s also thought to be a prime example of co-evolution (PDF). Dr. Muchhala described Anoura fistulata in a 2005 paper, so this bat species was unknown to science as recently as three or four years ago. Native to the outer slopes of the Andes in Ecuador, Anoura fistulata has the longest tongue relative to its body length of any mammal — so long, in fact, that it is necessary for it to retract its tongue into its rib cage.

Now go and look at the pictures.

Quintessence of Dust: How the bat got its wing

bat with wing bones labelled

(The bat wing diagram is from University of Michigan’s animal diversity Web site.)

S. F. Matheson at Quintessence of Dust has written up a nice explanation of the morphology of bat wing bones compared to normal tetrapod “hand” bones.

What’s killing our bats?

flying bat

Bats have been an unappreciated insect control for many years. Now, last winter and this winter, little brown bats in the Northeastern U.S. have been coming out of hibernation early and dying in the snow.

I have a guess as to the cause. Our autumn season has been consistently longer and finer since 1995. It was especially so that year, but every year since then the oak leaves have hung on long enough to develop bronzy, red, and purplish colours instead of just mud brown. The last two years we’ve had a green Christmas or snow has come just a few days before Christmas. (I’m in Ontario, similar enough to the northeast U.S. and Quebec.)

I think that October, November, and most of December have become too warm for the bats to hibernate but too cold for their insect prey. They are burning energy by staying awake and unable to eat enough to compensate. The result could be starving and early awwakening. It’s just a hypothesis. Can we set up some bat “aviaries” to test it?

dying bats on snow
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