Seasonal challenges of tropical bats in temperate zones

Maya Weinberg, Omer Mazar, Adi Rachum, Xing Chen, Sophia Goutink, Nora Lifshitz, Rona Winter-Livneh, Gábor Czirják, Yossi Yovel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To examine the challenges faced by free-ranging Rousettus aegyptiacus living at the northern edge of their distribution, we performed a retrospective analysis of 2196 clinical cases reported by a bat rescue NGO over a period of 36 months, from throughout Israel. All cases of injured bats were evaluated and categorized according to date, place, sex, age, and etiology of the morbidity. The data analysis revealed an increase in all types of morbidity during the wintertime, with more than two-fold the number of cases per week compared to in the summer, over three consecutive years. Moreover, we found that the number of abandoned pups peaked during spring and summer, when adult morbidity is minimal. We characterized two prominent types of previously undescribed morbidities in R. aegyptiacus. We also employed GPS tracking to monitor the movement and foraging of dozens of bats, and to examine the potential correlates of elevated winter morbidity. Our results suggest that it is mainly harsh weather that drives the observed winter morbidity, with food limitations playing a minor-role. We hypothesize that R. aegyptiacus, of tropical origin, is facing major seasonal survival difficulties near the northern edge of its distribution, probably limiting its spread further northwards still.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16869
Number of pages1
JournalScientific Reports
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 7 Oct 2022

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