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Friday, August 24

Climate change to badly affect bat life, says new research review

Climate change is speculated to affect almost all living creatures on the earth. Some will be severely hit due to their close relation to the climatic conditions of their habitat while some other may adapt and survive these changes. Bats, however, make it to the first category, points out a new review published by the journal Mammal Review.

According to the study, changing climate pattern is already taking its toll on many bat species. Based on a review of existing empirical data on the impact of climate change on bats, the scientists point out the bats are yet to face worst things. 

Indian Flying Fox,Pteropus giganteus, climate change and bats
Indian Flying Fox (Pteropus giganteus),
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
"Climate influences the biogeography of bats, their access to food, timing of hibernation, reproduction and development, frequency and duration of torpor and rate of energy expenditure", says the study. 

Analysing the data on the foraging, roosting, reproduction and biogeography of bats, in relation with extreme weather events and indirect effects of climate change, the review finds seven risk factors associated with bats as a result of climate change.

Bat risk factors in a changing climate

Bats distributed in geographically smaller ranges and high altitude and latitude ranges will be severely affected since climate change will leave them with no other home to move on. Bats which are distributed in the areas which may come under water stress as a result of changing climatic conditions also will be victimised.

However, their eating habits also will risk certain types of bats. For example, aerial hawking bats which live on an insect diet will have to travel more to find food. Similarly, since they lack body adaptations to prevent water loss, they will have to fly more to quench thirst when the climate gets warmer. This will adversely affect feeding mothers more, points out the study.

The hibernation patterns will also be changed. Bats which are known to undergo torpor or temporary hibernation periods with minimal physiological activity to conserve energy will have to wake up from it earlier than usual, in warmer conditions. It may jumble up their energy conservation tactics.

The reproduction pattern may change, but need not be in negative direction, says the study. Though there is a lack of enough data to assess the impact on reproduction, the researchers think that a warmer climate may help females to give birth and grow their child earlier than usual.

Threatened bats species under risk

The study has used the case of European and north-west African bats to identify the risk associated with climate change. It finds that 38 out of 47 species among these bats will be affected by climate change. Among them, 11 species which live on tress or caves will be severely hit, says the study.

All these bat species are presently categorized as endangered, critically endangered or vulnerable by IUCN. So their status is less likely to improve with the climate change, suggest the study.

Read more on our coverage on climate change 
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