Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Bats 'tricked' into flying into buildings

By Helen BriggsBBC News
8 September 2017

Modern buildings with large expanses of glass or mirrored surfaces are "potentially dangerous" for bats, research suggests.

Scientists are calling for monitoring of the risks, particularly in areas where bats congregate in large numbers.

Bats have a remarkable ability to fly at high speeds in the dark avoiding natural hazards such as trees.

Yet, smooth, vertical surfaces such as glass windows create a "blind spot" for the flying mammals, a study shows.

"Bats predominately rely on their echolocation system to forage, orientate, and navigate," says a team led by Dr Stefan Greif of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology near Munich in Germany.

"We found that bats can mistake smooth, vertical surfaces as clear flight paths, repeatedly colliding with them, likely as a result of their acoustic mirror properties."

Collision risk
Bats use echolocation to detect obstacles in flight, find their way into roosts and forage for food.

As they fly, they make calls and listen to the returning echoes to build up a sonic map of their surroundings.

Bats can flit through natural obstacles, such as forests, which return some echo back to them.

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