Climate change reduces Queensland's bat numbers

Jul 09, 2007

A central eastern Queensland mine has turned up bat fossils which show climate change has had a negative impact on the state’s bat population.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) PhD student Sandrine Martinez is currently sifting through what is the largest and best record of the state’s southern most bat population from the late Pleistocene Epoch (beginning two million years ago and ending approximately 10,000 years ago).

The fossil deposits were uncovered by mining operations at Mt Etna, near Rockhampton. They contain a succession of bat remains ranging from the late Pleistocene Epoch to the present and span the transition from full tropical rainforest habitats to the more arid environment that currently characterises the Mt Etna region.

Ms Martinez will compare information obtained from fossil data to the bat communities that still occur in the Mt Etna caves.

“What I’ve found so far is an overall decrease in species richness – today the Mt Etna caves are inhabited by five species of bat (excluding fruit bats) while in the late Pleistocene there were at least eight,” Ms Martinez said.

“These bats are insectivores and their decline could be due to a reduction in their food sources in response to climate change – that’s something I’ll be investigating further.

“It’s important to understand what has happened to bats in the past to more accurately predict what could happen in the future and perhaps prevent any more loss of diversity.

“Bats play an important ecological role as natural insect control agents. They account for almost a quarter of all mammal species and are the only flying mammals.

“Bats are declining worldwide and any information about their ecology is crucial to their future management

“Bats are often excluded from palaeoecological analyses due to their rarity in the fossil record and the difficulty in identifying them to species level, so we know very little about them. We don’t want to let this lack of knowledge lead to extinction.”

Source: Queensland University of Technology

Explore further: Study solves the bluetongue disease 'overwintering' mystery

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Hot Jupiters' provoke their own host suns to wobble

23 minutes ago

Blame the "hot Jupiters." These large, gaseous exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) can make their suns wobble when they wend their way through their own solar systems to snuggle up against their ...

The sound of an atom has been captured

23 minutes ago

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology are first to show the use of sound to communicate with an artificial atom. They can thereby demonstrate phenomena from quantum physics with sound taking on ...

New species of electrons can lead to better computing

23 minutes ago

Electrons that break the rules and move perpendicular to the applied electric field could be the key to delivering next generation, low-energy computers, a collaboration of scientists from the University ...

Recommended for you

Final pieces to the circadian clock puzzle found

7 hours ago

Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine have discovered how two genes – Period and Cryptochrome – keep the circadian clocks in all human cells in time and in proper rhythm with the 24-hour day, as well ...

Measuring modified protein structures

11 hours ago

Swiss researchers have developed a new approach to measure proteins with structures that change. This could enable new diagnostic tools for the early recognition of neurodegenerative diseases to be developed.

New insights in survival strategies of bacteria

11 hours ago

Bacteria are particularly ingenious when it comes to survival strategies. They often create a biofilm to protect themselves from a hostile environment, for example during treatment with antibiotics. A biofilm is a bacterial ...

Bangladesh meet begins to save endangered tigers

12 hours ago

Some 140 tiger experts and government officials from 20 countries met in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Sunday to review progress towards an ambitious goal of doubling their number in the wild by 2022.

Study solves the bluetongue disease 'overwintering' mystery

Sep 12, 2014

The bluetongue virus, which causes a serious disease that costs the cattle and sheep industries in the United States an estimated $125 million annually, manages to survive the winter by reproducing in the insect that transmits ...

User comments : 0