Bat facts: One in five mammals is a bat. Bats are the only mammals that can fly.
In the fall, bats often migrate hundreds of miles to abandoned mines and caves where they hibernate through the winter. Deep in the caverns, they cuddle up in tight, furry clusters.
In an effort to determine the cause of White Nose Syndrome that has has killed nearly 7 million bats since it first appeared in the US in New York State, researchers are gathering information about bat-to-bat interactions and how far bats travel between seasonal habitats.
In a recent study scientists have used the hydrogen “fingerprints” from bats’ hair samples to locate three geographic areas in Michigan from which the bats migrate–some as far 351 miles from the mine in which they hibernate.
They were able to estimate with 95 percent certainty the summer origins of the tens of thousands of bats that hibernate in the three areas.
Bat-to-bat contact is believed to be the way white-nose syndrome is spread, so understanding the bats’ movements can help determine which hibernation sites are connected and how disease could potentially be transmitted among locations.
Source: from materials provided by Michigan Technological University, via sciencedaily.com.