How Do Swarming Bats Avoid Crashing Into Each Other? 

The mammals obey “traffic rules,” using their built-in sonar to track each others’ positions in the air, a new study says.

by Jason Bittel

Under the cover of darkness, swarms of fast-flying bats take to the skies in their nightly quest to find food. But how the mammals manage to maneuver without crashing into each other has been up in the air—until now.

A new study finds that the nocturnal creatures follow a few simple  “traffic rules” to avoid midair collisions: The bats first home in on the positions of other bats using their built-in sonar, then follow the flight path of a leader bat—or wingman, as it were.

In new experiments conducted in the United Kingdom, scientists observed the flight patterns of wild Daubenton’s bats (Myotis daubentonii), an insectivore that weighs about as much as an AAA battery and ranges from the British Isles to Japan.

"Sometimes they avoided collision by one of them speeding up and the other slowing down," said Marc Holderied, a behavioral biologist at the U.K.’s University of Bristol., whose study appeared March 26 in the journal PLOS Computational Biology

(read more: National Geographic)

photo by Paul van Hoof, Buiten-beeld/Minden Pictures/Corbis

Hibernacula: Places Where Species Like Bats Hibernate.

Bats by the thousands congregate in such caves and mine shafts, spending their winters away from the elements. Now they’re anything but safe. Their proximity to one another, along with the caves’ and mines’ natural humidity, has fueled the outbreak of one of the worst bat diseases in history, White Nose Syndrome. A group of  NSF funded scientists studied the disease over hundreds of bat colonies around the U.S.

Learn more: National Science Foundation

Photo credit: Ivan Horacek - Greater mouse-eared bats, European bats that can become infected with White Nose Syndrome.


Tiny Bats Roost Inside of Carnivorous Plants

by Mićo Tatalović

BATS roost in big groups in caves. Wrong! If you’re a Hardwicke’s woolly bat, you prefer to sleep in a more luxurious – and private – place.

Kerivoula hardwickii roosts inside tropical pitcher plants in Borneo. These carnivorous plants usually attract insects, but Nepenthes hemsleyana lacks the scents that others have, so few bugs are lured in. Instead, it benefits from the faeces of this tiny bat, which provides more than a third of its nitrogen and may be crucial to the plant’s survival.

"This is the only bat species that has ever been found roosting in pitchers," says Caroline Regina Schöner, whose team discovered the bats in 2009. "These bats managed to find a niche that no one else is occupying."…

(read more: New Scientist)

photographs by Merlin Tuttle/Science Source



Hungry snake hunting creatures.

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Finished up this Bechstein’s Bat on Julie, who rules and was wearing the world’s greatest Beyonce shirt. Thanks girl! This one was so fun.