Monday, 2 October 2017

Bats anticipate optimal weather conditions

September 20, 2017
Millions of animals fly, swim or walk around the Earth every year. To ensure that they reach their destination, they need to perceive precise changes in environmental conditions and choose the right moment to set off on their journey. Bats, too, are influenced by environmental factors. Every spring, common noctules in southern Germany set off for their summer territories. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell have been studying what conditions trigger this migration. They discovered that the decision to set off depends on a combination of wind speed, wind direction and air pressure. The researchers have developed a model that allows them to predict when the bats will start their migration.
Flocks of birds in the skies are a familiar autumn sight, as they head south to overwinter. But every year millions of other animals – from crabs and insects to fish and mammals – set off on a similar migration. There are a range of different factors which determine when they set off. Migratory birds, for example, need to have gained sufficient weight since the previous winter. When they depart is also affected by day length, wind conditions and air pressure. Bat migration, by contrast, is less well understood.

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