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Concept: Nyctalus


Worldwide, many countries aim at countering global climate change by promoting renewable energy. Yet, recent studies highlight that so-called green energy, such as wind energy, may come at environmental costs, for example when wind turbines kill birds and bats. Using miniaturized GPS loggers, we studied how an open-space foraging bat with high collision risk with wind turbines, the common noctule Nyctalus noctula (Schreber, 1774), interacts with wind turbines. We compared actual flight trajectories to correlated random walks to identify habitat variables explaining the movements of bats. Both sexes preferred wetlands but used conventionally managed cropland less than expected based on availability. During midsummer, females traversed the land on relatively long flight paths and repeatedly came close to wind turbines. Their flight heights above ground suggested a high risk of colliding with wind turbines. In contrast, males recorded in early summer commuted straight between roosts and foraging areas and overall flew lower than the operating range of most turbine blades, suggesting a lower collision risk. Flight heights of bats suggest that during summer the risk of collision with wind turbines was high for most studied bats at the majority of currently installed wind turbines. For siting of wind parks, preferred bat habitats and commuting routes should be identified and avoided.

Concepts: Energy, Weather, Renewable energy, Wind power, Turbine, Wind turbine, Windmill, Nyctalus


Over recent years, it became widely accepted that alternative, renewable energy may come at some risk for wildlife, for example, when wind turbines cause large numbers of bat fatalities. To better assess likely populations effects of wind turbine related wildlife fatalities, we studied the geographical origin of the most common bat species found dead below German wind turbines, the noctule bat (Nyctalus noctula). We measured stable isotope ratios of non-exchangeable hydrogen in fur keratin to separate migrants from local individuals, used a linear mixed-effects model to identify temporal, spatial and biological factors explaining the variance in measured stable isotope ratios and determined the geographical breeding provenance of killed migrants using isoscape origin models. We found that 72% of noctule bat casualties (nā€Š=ā€Š136) were of local origin, while 28% were long-distance migrants. These findings highlight that bat fatalities at German wind turbines may affect both local and distant populations. Our results indicated a sex and age-specific vulnerability of bats towards lethal accidents at turbines, i.e. a relatively high proportion of killed females were recorded among migratory individuals, whereas more juveniles than adults were recorded among killed bats of local origin. Migratory noctule bats were found to originate from distant populations in the Northeastern parts of Europe. The large catchment areas of German wind turbines and high vulnerability of female and juvenile noctule bats call for immediate action to reduce the negative cross-boundary effects of bat fatalities at wind turbines on local and distant populations. Further, our study highlights the importance of implementing effective mitigation measures and developing species and scale-specific conservation approaches on both national and international levels to protect source populations of bats. The efficacy of local compensatory measures appears doubtful, at least for migrant noctule bats, considering the large geographical catchment areas of German wind turbines for this species.

Concepts: Renewable energy, Wind power, Wind farm, Wind turbine, Windmill, Vesper bat, Nyctalus, Greater Noctule bat


Bats are natural reservoirs for many mammalian coronaviruses, which have received renewed interest after the discovery of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) CoV in humans. This study describes the identification and molecular characterization of alphacoronaviruses and betacoronaviruses in bats in Italy, from 2010 to 2012. Sixty-nine faecal samples and 126 carcasses were tested using pan-coronavirus RT-PCR. Coronavirus RNAs were detected in seven faecal samples and nine carcasses. A phylogenetic analysis of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase sequence fragments aided in identifying two alphacoronaviruses from Kuhl’s pipistrelle (Pipistrellus kuhlii), three clade 2b betacoronaviruses from lesser horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus hipposideros), and 10 clade 2c betacoronaviruses from Kuhl’s pipistrelle, common noctule (Nyctalus noctula), and Savi’s pipistrelle (Hypsugo savii). This study fills a substantive gap in the knowledge on bat-CoV ecology in Italy, and extends the current knowledge on clade 2c betacoronaviruses with new sequences obtained from bats that have not been previously described as hosts of these viruses.

Concepts: RNA, RNA interference, Severe acute respiratory syndrome, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, Vesper bats, Pipistrellus, Nyctalus, Kuhl's Pipistrelle


A previously unrecognised species of hymenolepidid cestode attributable to Vampirolepis Spassky, 1954 is described based on specimens from the common noctule bat Nyctalus noctula (Schreber) (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) from southeastern Kazakhstan (Dzungarian Alatau). Specimens of Vampirolepis kulkinae n. sp. differ from the morphologically similar congeners based on the number, size and shape of the rostellar hooks. The new species is further distinguished from additional cestodes attributed to Vampirolepis (sensu lato) by the arrangement of the testes in one row, egg structure (i.e. thin outer coat and emryophore without polar filaments) and the relative position and length of the cirrus-sac. This is the first species of the genus Vampirolepis described from Kazakhstan.

Concepts: Mammal, Cestoda, Vesper bats, Cyclophyllidea, Vesper bat, Nyctalus, Greater Noctule bat, Common Noctule


Long-term conservation and educational activities of numerous nongovernmental organizations have greatly increased public awareness about bats and their lifestyle. As a result, there is growing public concern about threats to bat populations. Many species of bats declined over recent decades and there is great demand for medical services to help injured or diseased bats. Veterinary clinicians dealing with such cases have to consider many issues, including ethical issues associated with the delayed fertilization reproduction strategy of temperate insectivorous bats. An outline of veterinary and physiologic requirements for treatment of and keeping vespertilionid bats in captivity is highlighted.

Concepts: Medicine, Reproduction, Animal echolocation, Bat, Non-profit organization, Microbat, Vesper bat, Nyctalus


Hantaviruses are emerging RNA viruses that cause human diseases predominantly in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Besides rodents, insectivores and bats serve as hantavirus reservoirs. We report the detection and genome characterization of a novel bat-borne hantavirus isolated from insectivorous common noctule bat. The newfound virus was tentatively named as Brno virus.

Concepts: Genome, RNA, Insect, RNA virus, Bat, Vesper bats, Nyctalus, Common Noctule


Astroviruses are a major cause of gastroenteritis in humans and animals. Recently, novel groups of astroviruses were identified in apparently healthy insectivorous bats. We report the detection of diverse novel astrovirus sequences in nine different European bat species: Eptesicus serotinus, Hypsugo savii, Myotis emarginatus, M. mystacinus, Nyctalus noctula, Pipistrellus nathusii or P. pygmaeus, P. pipistrellus, Vespertilio murinus, and Rhinolophus hipposideros. In six bat species, astrovirus sequences were detected for the first time. One astrovirus strain detected in R. hipposideros clustered phylogenetically with Chinese astrovirus strains originating from bats of the families Rhinolophidae and Hipposideridae. All other Czech astrovirus sequences from vesper bats formed, together with one Hungarian sequence, a separate monophyletic lineage within the bat astrovirus group. These findings provide new insights into the molecular epidemiology, ecology, and prevalence of astroviruses in European bat populations.

Concepts: European Union, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Bat, Microbat, Vesper bats, Vesper bat, Nyctalus


The baculum (os penis) has been extensively studied as a taxon-specific character in bats and other mammals but its mechanical function is still unclear. There is a wide consensus in the literature that the baculum is probably a sexually selected character. Using a novel approach combining postmortem manipulation and three-dimensional (3D) imaging, we tested two functional hypotheses in the common noctule bat Nyctalus noctula, the common pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus, and Nathusius' pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii: (i) whether the baculum can protect the distal urethra and urethral opening from compression during erection and copulation; and (ii) whether the baculum and corpora cavernosa form a functional unit to support both the penile shaft and the more distal glans tip. In freshly dead or frozen and thawed bats, we compared flaccid penises with artificially ‘erect’ penises that were inflated with 10% formalin. Penises were stained with alcoholic iodine and imaged with a lab-based high-resolution x-ray microtomography system. Analysis of the 3D images enabled us to compare the changes in relative positions of the baculum, corpora cavernosa, urethra, and corpus spongiosum with one another between flaccid and ‘erect’ penises. Our results support both functional hypotheses, indicating that the baculum probably performs two different roles during erection. Our approach should prove valuable for comparing and testing the functions of different baculum morphologies in bats and other mammals. Moreover, we have validated an essential component of the groundwork necessary to extend this approach with finite element analysis for quantitative 3D biomechanical modeling of penis function.

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, Urethra, Penis, Erection, Corpus cavernosum penis, Vesper bats, Nyctalus, Common Noctule


Long-distance migration is a rare phenomenon in European bats. Genetic analyses and banding studies show that females can cover distances of up to 1,600 km, whereas males are sedentary or migrate only short distances. The onset of this sex-biased migration is supposed to occur shortly after rousing from hibernation and when the females are already pregnant. We therefore predicted that the sexes are exposed to different energetic pressures in early spring, and this should be reflected in their behavior and physiology. We investigated this in one of the three Central European long-distance migrants, the common noctule (Nyctalus noctula) in Southern Germany recording the first individual partial migration tracks of this species. In contrast to our predictions, we found no difference between male and female home range size, activity, habitat use or diet. Males and females emerged from hibernation in similar body condition and mass increase rate was the same in males and females. We followed the first migration steps, up to 475 km, of radio-tagged individuals from an airplane. All females, as well as some of the males, migrated away from the wintering area in the same northeasterly direction. Sex differences in long-distance migratory behavior were confirmed through stable isotope analysis of hair, which showed greater variation in females than in males. We hypothesize that both sexes faced similarly good conditions after hibernation and fattened at maximum rates, thus showing no differences in their local behavior. Interesting results that warrant further investigation are the better initial condition of the females and the highly consistent direction of the first migratory step in this population as summering habitats of the common noctule occur at a broad range in Northern Europe. Only research focused on individual strategies will allow us to fully understand the migratory behavior of European bats.

Concepts: Male, Female, Sexual dimorphism, Gender, Sex, Human migration, Gamete, Nyctalus