Forsøksdyr: Stress physiology and energetics of bats in Norway

Godkjenningsdato 07.05.2018

Godkjenningsperiode 04.06.2018-31.05.2020

Environmental changes pose serious physiological challenges for animals, which means that animals need to be able to adapt to increase their chance of survival. Bats in particular are at risk of not being able to meet their energetic demands in the face of environmental change, their small body size and large surface area means that they need very high metabolic rates for activity. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the stress and energetics physiology of different populations of bats throughout the year. Firstly, this will be accomplished by measuring stress hormones and telomere changes of bat populations in different areas and throughout the year. This data will provide knowledge on what environmental variables help to reduce stress or contribute to stress in bat populations. Measuring the metabolic rates and skin temperature of bats from different populations in response to varying temperatures will enable us to determine which bat species are physiologically flexible and can adapt to a changing climate and those that will need more help in the face of climate change. All of these measurements are minimally invasive, and all bats will be returned to the wild. Therefore, the adverse effects of our research are very small and only experienced researchers will handle the bats to minimise handling stress. We will focus on the Northern bat (Eptesicus nilssonii), Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus), Daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentonii), Whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus) and Brandt’s bat (Myotis brandtii). Importantly, to gain this knowledge this research concentrates on animals at the individual level, rather than at the widely studied population level. By placing too much emphasis on the collective, previous studies have likely overlooked adaptations that are important for survival. The proposed research will provide crucial information on how bats balance energy use and deal with stress and also key environmental characteristics that are detrimental or beneficial to bats, especially in relation to anthropogenic habitat degradation and climate change. Such knowledge will contribute to the understanding of bat biology and how to better conserve them in the face of urbanisation and climate change.