Monday, October 31, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
Microchriptera (aka 'Micro bats') however are generally small as their name suggests (Micro is a Greek prefix meaning 'small'). These closely related bats are usually very small but sometimes can be as large as small Megachiropterans. They are also nearly cosmopolitan in distribution (meaning they occur globally). They are found from the far north in places such as Alaska and Scandinavia to the extreme South such as South Africa, and Southern South America and are pretty much everywhere else between! An example of a Micro bat is shown below.
Microbats are much more diverse but both groups present amazing examples of the diversity of vertebrates as the only flying mammals!
*Images are from the American Society of Mammalogists website where you can access many other excellent photos of different mammals.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
A young girl in Lake Elsinore encountered a bat that was apparently sick due to an infection with rabies. This unfortunate incident was surely shocking for the unfortunate girl involved and her family. Hopefully the girl is recovering quickly from the event which is likely due to the immediate treatment she received. The remainder of this post does not argue that being bitten by any animal is not a potentially dangerous thing nor does it try to take away from what the poor-child involved experienced. However what it does focus on is the way the media responded. Reading responses to the article it was apparent that people were very concerned about the incident occurring again. Worrying about getting bit by a bat is unfounded as being bitten by a dog is exponentially more likely. This thought lead me to question if a rabid dog bit a 3 year old girl it would also appear in the news paper.
However, the fact remains that the article presented and focused on a reoccurring myth...bats attacking hair. This myth is what I would like to address. It simply is not true that bats 'go for' (i.e. seek out and attack) people's hair just as much as bats are not blind. It is however interesting that this is such a pervasive idea that it is even included in the header of the Press Enterprise article.
Friday, September 30, 2011
(In-progress, expect updates)
Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, South Pacific Islands
31 October Australasian Bat night
26, 29 Oct. Bourges Chauve-souris expo at the Natural History Museum in Bourges.
3 Oct. Fledermaus Kreativ Wettbewerb (bat creativity contest to come up with art for the bat museum or Internet site.)
23 Oct. Opening of Sweden's bat museum!
1 Oct. (Zurich) Long Sat. bat exhibit.
21 Oct. Bats for building workers (workshop) Jersey Bat Group.
26-29 Oct. North American Symposium on Bat Research (NASBR). Toronto, Canada. Chiropterologists will be meeting to discuss their research!
Anytime. Who knew? You can take river cruises to see the famous Congress Avenue Bridge bat colony emerge! So the next time you are in Austin check it out.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
- dry mass (how much water is in the milk)
- carbohydrates (sugars like lactose) and
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The precarious roosting location for the bats aside this fascinating study that uses both radio telemetry and stable isotope ecological methods reveals an unlikely relationship between carnivorous plants and bats.
Grafe, T. U., C.R. Schoener, G. Kerth, A. Junaidi, and M.G. Schoener. (2011). A novel resource-service mutalism between bats and pitcher plants. Biology Letters
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Unfortunately activities seem restricted to Europe for the time being...
11 May Nachtscwaermer-guided tour (Frakfurt Zoo)
18 May- Nachtscwaermer- guided tour (Frankfurt Zoo)
21 & 22 May- Experiencing bats (Frankfurt Zoo)
25 May- Lecture "night Flight- Fascinating bats" (Frankfurt Zoo)
17 May Bat walk, Bryngarw County Park, Bridgend, South Wales
20May- 16 September Cambridge, 'Bat Safari' river tours
Friday, April 15, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
The shape of wings causes air to move over the wing-surface in a unique way. Specifically, air flows faster over the upper curved surface of the wing and slower over the cupped (concave) surface. This causes negative pressure on the upper side of the wing and thus the wing begins to rise. In principle this is what happens when as a child you cupped your hand and played with the wind outside the open car window. Remember how the air would suddenly PUSH your hand upward? That is 'lift'! Additionally that is about the time you were reminded to not put your arms out the window.Take home: the shape of wings (think of a bird or bat wing) is what causes air to move in a way that LIFTS the wing upward. The opposing force is gravity... without lift (like you or I flapping our arms, sorry to say but we are not going to generate sufficient lift) gravity 'wins' and we stay stuck to the ground. Gravity is complex for despite the fact that physicists can tell us its value (9.81 m/s2) how it 'works' and why it exerts force on objects was perplexing even to Einstein who wrote extensively on the topic. Incidentally, Einstein apparently also noted "Gravity cannot be held responsible for people falling in love." ______________ (I will insert an awkward pause here as you ponder that and why he might have felt it necessary to declare such a fact, if he made this statement in English or German and if it would have been funny regardless). Back to flight: The wings of bats are more flexible than birds because the wing itself is formed by a thin layer of skin rather than stiff feathers. However, birds are able to more easily change their wing area by moving their wings closer to their bodies because bats require the full extension of their 'fingers' i.e. the wing to have it function because of its thin nature. In searching for an analogy the best I have for you follows. This is similar in a way to how airplanes have rigid wings (like bird wings) while a para glider that uses a flexible surface (like a bats wings) is less able to change the shape of the 'wings' or they will loose lift.
Basically thrust is the power from a wing-stroke that pushes back against air and results in a force propelling the animal FORWARD. Indeed to understand this idea you must remember that air is made up of molecules and is in actuality a fluid (like water). Thus there is indeed something to 'push upon'.
I will conclude for now and leave you with another Einstein quote as a 'token' physicist
"Science i nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking".I refer you to this much more comprehensive explanation of flight (here) and hope you find this topic interesting.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
So if i were to suggest a timely sci-fi B movie, (of better quality relative to 'THEM' pictured above, which I must say is the most boring 'attack of the killer....(fill in blank but make sure it is larger than usual and relentless)' movie, which is especially surprising considering that THEM features giant killer-ants which seems like a winning plot-line) it would involve mutant bats released from a sealed cave that opened during a recent earthquake. These bats would wipe-out the Argentinian super colony of ants of Southern California or at least keep the kitchens and cat food bowls of residents ant-free!
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
I think Jane Goodall (above) would fit into this category.
However there are some surprising things you cannot easily rig no-matter how much duct tape. I could not for the life of me 'make' a syringe or a pesola for that matter (a little scale for weighing things). For me the quintessential example of something unexpected that one must buy is that of little plastic bands with numbers to mark individual bats. I have found myself not only ordering fancy little plastic rings with special numbers for each bat but dependant on ordering them from a company in the United Kingdom! So I guess when you need something special it quickly becomes a narrow market. Are we really surprised that there is only one company known for making little rings with numbers to mark birds and bats? Probably not.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
(an example of a Mythical vampire above and an actual (and rather cute) vampire bat to the right!)
While considering what to write about today and part of me was excited to go on some of my favorite bats- the sucker footed-bats that recently to my dismay were demonstrated to not really BE sucker-footed (long story... don't worry I'll get to this topic soon enough!) But then I thought that maybe that would be jumping ahead and skipping one of the classics.... vampire bats! (Leave it to me to skip the classics! My apologies)!
Did you know there are 3 kinds of vampire bats? When I say 3 kinds I mean 3 species. These are: the common vampire (Desmodus rotundus) (below you can see a common vampire bat on a cave wall), the Hairy-legged vampire (Diphylla ecaudata) (a face of which you can see to the right with its big eyes), and the White-winged vampire (Diaemus youngi). These bats are unique among all bats in that they are the only species that derive their entire diets from blood. Just to get those numbers straight out of the nearly 1100 bat species 3 are vampire bats. That's not very many. Indeed most bats eat insects or fruit and not blood. A diet of blood is actually fairly difficult because blood does not have all the usual components of a balanced diet and is also full of water meaning these animals need special digestive organs to be able to manage eating blood.
So for those vampire literature affectionados out there it is of note that vampire bats are from the 'New World' i.e. the Americans while most of our classic 'vampire' mythology comes from Europe ('Old World'). Vampires also do not 'suck' blood. They simply bite their host and lap up the blood that drips as a result of the wound. Indeed vampire bats have a very special saliva that prevents clotting (what happens when you develop a scab and you stop bleeding) so that they have a little longer to 'eat' before the wound closes. This special saliva has been researched by scientists and is now used in hospitals in cases where doctors need to prevent clotting in human patients! (Pending future post!...)
While vampire bats may SEEM scary they are quiet nice bats and even share food and are excellent mothers. We do not have vampire bats in the US with the exception of some places in Southern Texas.
Vampire bats are interesting for many reasons but also receive a bad reputation due to their diets. (Click here for a video from Animal Planet).
Other blood-feeding animals that are much more common than vampire bats:
and the less common but incredibly cool
- Vampire finch (click here for a video)!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Aimed at increasing public awareness of the importance of bats United Nations Environmental Programe, Bat Conservation International, Conservation of Populations of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and Eurobats.org have named 2011 'the Year of the Bat!' Please go to http://www.yearofthebat.org/ if you would like to find out more!
I have been bit, stung and harassed by a variety of insects ranging from acacia ants, wasps, Velvet 'ants', to mosquitoes, even one time being bit by a mosquito literally ON my eyelid waking and being met with looks of terror from my fellow field-workers at my Quasimodo-esque appearance. However, I can count on one hand (or at least that was the case until my last trip to the field) the number of ticks I had had the dis-pleasure to encounter. I had convinced myself that my record: one Colorado tick and one Panama tick was due to a genetically coded body chemistry derived from my father's apparent mosquito-repelling composition. This idea was just fine for me- I have to admit that on both previous tick-encounters I had to be literally pinned down during the ridiculously belabored and meticulous process of tick removal...
How do you remove a tick and why should you care?
Carefully... very carefully with heat or something else to provide encouragement to back out of its position and pull its head (see above) out of your body. A warmed piece of metal like tweezers will do the trick. After it starts to wiggle and appeared annoyed you can carefully pull it out without getting its head stuck inside your skin. Can you start to see where my general dislike for ticks is ... embedded? What happens if the head is not removed? Infection. Infection and the perpetual knowledge that you have a nasty little tick head stuck in your skin! Yuck!
- you cannot really feel the tick biting, and wouldn't notice it unless you saw or felt a bump where the tick was attached.
- ticks CAN carry diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme's Disease but more often or not they are innocent creatures looking for a meal.
- many mammals are hosts to ticks including deer, cows and bats. Even some lizards and birds are infected by ticks
- click (HERE) for a video about ticks
So this last trip I discovered that I had a tick but unfortunately everyone was sound asleep. So I was left with two options: 1. Buck up and deal by removing it or 2. desperately wait for help while shuddering in my sleep picturing it munching away at my blood while I try to sleep... I bet I could feel its minuscule jaw wiggling as it ate! I chose (1) to try to remove it with no help to prevent my thrashing while I myself performed the nearly-ritualized removal. The suffering was not as bad as I expected although the process took an excessive 30 minuets! So all was well when the next day after walking to and from the cave for work I found I had no less than 12 more new friends to remove! I can now say I am at least proficient at most tick self-removal (we will not talk about the nearly dime sized 'friend; i had in the center of my back that I had to ask for help with!
So what if we try to picture life through a tick's eyes? What would we see? Would we feel less repulsed? I mean just knowing that the Spanish name for these guys 'garrapata' (leg grabbers) makes I will admit feel a little sorry for them for their unfortunately condition of being born ticks."I am so hungry ... I could just cry. The girls left weeks ago when they sensed a warmth below and they jumped terrified entangled in each others legs (all 16 legs 8 each). I did not hear a peep from below and I cannot convince myself that they made it safely. I will never know. I know of only 2 to 3 times when we ticks have been re-united with our loved ones. And now I sit. I wonder and I remember. I told them it was safer to wait until they sensed not just heat but also the CO2 that would let us know that finally an end to our weeks of starvation were at an end. I explained that the CO2 could ONLY be released by a host but heat could be tricky that they should be prudent and wait. But they were desperate. And now I am here. alone. ALONE. And so hungry. It would be fine with the memories of loves lost (my husband died months ago and now I hope that I will find food in time to lay my eggs so he will at least be remembered one day by his 2000 children). I did not ask for this life but it is mine to live and for my children I choose to hold on tightly to this blade of grass waiting... and waiting."
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Because the drive is long we will first secure where we are staying, and ask to use the centrifuge housed at a ranch near (~ 45 mins. away) to the cave and walk to the cave (~half an hour walk across cow pastures) by this time in the dark to put cloths under the bat colonies to collect the food they drop while they eat in the roost!
More news pending our return!
Meanwhile- bats or bust!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Plans for what became called Project X-Ray was hatched by Donald Griffin, a Harvard scientist and famous bat researcher and a very young Jack Couffer among others.
An excellent and often funny book on the topic titled Bat Bomb by Jack Couffer tells the whole story. A famous bat named 'Flamethrower' is also discussed in the book. Flamethrower was a Mastiff bat (Eumops perotis) which is the largest bat that occurs in the US, weighing around 60 grams (~2 oz). Because the bombs that were designed for bats to carry needed to be small and light-weight Flamethrower who was tame was used as a model for various prototypes. The problem however was that Flamethrower as a Mastiff bat was much larger than the bats that were going to be used for Project X-Ray! Needless to say the project had so many problems (including unplanned bat-initiated explosions!) that it never went into action.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
This disease has killed bats in numerous states in the eastern US:
- New Jersey
- New York
- New Hampshire
- West Virginia
And in Canada
It is estimated that over 1 million bats have died from this disease. The causes of white nose syndrome are still somewhat unclear however what is known is that a fungus previously undescribed (Geomyces destructans) infects the skin of bats infected by white nose syndrome. Bats that usually hibernate during the winter are having difficulties maintaining the fat deposits that they metabolize (break down) for energy during the winter. Without the fat stores required for hibernation, bats are staying active during cold winter temperatures which is energetically expensive particularly because food (insects) is limited during winter months.
Researchers are very concerned that the disease is moving west. Unfortunately the fungus associated with White Nose Syndrome has already been found in Oklahoma and Missouri.
Learn more about this disease by clicking HERE.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Bat sites by location:
California: bats of Orange County
Colorado: USGS bat research Costa Rica Louisiana Nevada New Mexico: Carlsbad Caverns New York Panama's Adaptable Bats (from National Geographic- with GREAT photos!) Texas: the famous CONGRESS BRIDGE (below) Utah
So what are some of the desert bats in the US and Mexico?
To the left is one of the most unique species called the Pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus). These bats lovingly referred to as 'Werebats' by my co-workers in the field primarily eat large insects like scorpions, and centipedes in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico. They are known by biologists by their amazing ability to get almost all the water they need from the food they eat by having highly specialized kidneys (the organ responsible for concentrating and regulating the water in our bodies via a process termed osmoregulation). This little guy I captured in Arizona in at the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge.
Another interesting bat is the California leaf-nosed bat (Macrotus californicus) shown here on the left. Perhaps on first glance this bat looks quite similar to the first but look closely at its nose. You can see what researchers refer to as a 'leaf' on its nose. These bats are much more rare than Pallid bats and normally are only found in Mexico and in the US near the border in Arizona and California. These bats are not good at thermoregulation (keeping their bodies warm by producing heat) and shiver while you hold them to generate heat.
Here is another bat called the California myotis (Myotis californicus). These bats are smaller than the above species but much more common. While this bat was captured in Arizona the species ranges from Canada to Guatamala.
Photos (Saguaro cactus: T. Orr, bats: C. Gilman)
**Please come back as I update the species listed.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
The 'bats are' list:
This cartoon inspired the name of my blog that tries to deal with some of the 'FACTS' that we all think we know about bats. Enjoy!