New Technique Used to Track the Travels of Little Brown Bats

Little Brown Bats

Photo via Michigan Tech

Researchers from Michigan Technological University have applied a technique, previously used to track migratory birds, to little brown bats in hopes of getting a glimpse of their migration patterns.

The technique uses stable hydrogen isotopes, a kind of chemical fingerprint found in tissues such as hair, to match the geographic area where the bats were when the tissue grew.

In order to find out the where the bats came from the team developed maps of the distinctive hydrogen fingerprints of water from different locations. They then tried to match that data with the fingerprints from bat hair they collected from bats hibernating at Michigan’s Quincy, Norway and Caledonia Mines.

The results of the study have been able to estimate with 95 percent accuracy, the summer stomping grounds of thousands of bats, some which travel as far as 565 kilometers (351 miles) from their hibernation site.

There is hope that the information learned from the study will help predict and ultimately manage the spread of white-nose syndrome.

The research, which will be out in the July issue of the journal Ecological Applications, was funded by the National Park Service Great Lakes Network and the Ecosystems Science Center and the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Tech.

Chemical Fingerprinting Tracks the Travels of Little Brown Bats [Michigan Tech News via Dean Wiseman]

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