Bats breed better when the rivers run

Insectivorous bat

A sleeping bat (Image: Lee Carson on Flickr)

Many things in nature are interconnected; I guess that’s why people use terms like the ‘web of life’ and other big words like ‘biocomplexity’.

Dr Rick Adams (of the BatLab) recently published his work on the reproductive success of bats in relation to changes in the volume of water flowing down streams.

When water levels in streams near bat roosting sites fell, for example during a drought year, bat reproductive success crashed by more than 50%. The reduction in water flow had the biggest effect if it coincided with the lactation phase of the bats. Remember bats are mammals and suckle their young so they need lots of water and food (insects).

Dr Rick related his findings to climate change models about rainfall in Colorado and has published the findings in the journal Ecology.

When we think of streams and rivers, we think of fish, frogs and other aquatic organisms – we don’t often think of bats. So what Dr Rick has shown us is how changes to the physical environment can affect animals that we don’t intuitively connect with it. In this case the reproductive success of bats is related to snow fall and the subsequent melt flowing down streams.

In Australia, we often alter the flow of rivers for irrigation schemes, or dam them for water supplies for towns and cities. Perhaps the effects of such modifications reach further into the web of life surrounding our rivers than we realise.

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3 thoughts on “Bats breed better when the rivers run

  1. Pingback: Nest boxes make new homes for sugar gliders

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