Navigation Links
Food forensics: DNA links habitat quality to bat diet
Date:3/3/2011

All night long, bats swoop over our landscape consuming insects, but they do this in secret, hidden from our view. Until recently, scientists have been unable to bring their ecosystem out of the dark but thanks to new genetic techniques, researchers from the University of Bristol and Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, Canada, have been able to reconstruct the environment supporting these elusive creatures.

Working at three sites in Southern Ontario (Canada) the team of students and scientists monitored the diet of little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) from colonies living on agricultural land and at a conservation site. Guano (bat faeces) was continually collected under each roost from May to August. Back in the lab at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario in Canada, the team extracted insect DNA from the material and sequenced a "DNA barcode" which is a small region of DNA that can be used to identify animal species. The team then matched these unknown insect sequences in bat guano to a library of known sequences to identify which insect prey the bats where eating.

"This technology is very new," says lead author Dr Elizabeth Clare of the University of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences. "It gives us an entirely new insight into the bats' behaviour. Instead of just finding they ate a moth or a mayfly, we now know exactly what species of insect it was, providing us with important information on their habitat."

Using this technique, the team found that the bats rely heavily on insects from aquatic environments. They were also able to identify the exact species of insect prey, which revealed that different colonies exploit different source water, sometimes rivers and streams, sometimes ponds, depending on the local landscape.

"Some of the insects they eat come from very specific habitats and have specific pollution tolerances.

These 'environmental indicators' allow us to reconstruct exactly what their foraging habitat was like," explains Dr Clare. "It's a very non-invasive way of tracking their behaviour a bit like looking through someone's rubbish bin to see where they shop."

The bats foraged very locally travelling only a few hundred meters to catch insect prey. The species they ate changed seasonally and the shifts corresponded to the phases of pregnancy and lactation in the bats.

The researchers also identified that bats in agricultural habitats seemed to have a more restricted diet of fewer insect species than bats in a conservation area even though the source water in all areas was of good quality.

Dr Clare added, "This suggests that even small conservation projects can have an impact on the entire food chain. This site has a small patch of forest, a small pond and a dedicated group of conservation workers. All these components seem to have generated a good environment for the insects and thus the bats they support."

The results of this research are becoming more and more important as this bat species is under serious threat from the spread of a fungal disease called 'white nose syndrome' which may threaten the survival of these populations in North America.

Dr Clare comments: "Understanding how the bats exist within the ecosystem is vital to our conservation goals."

The research is published today [Thursday 3 March] in the journal Molecular Ecology.


'/>"/>

Contact: Caroline Clancy
caroline.clancy@bristol.ac.uk
44-117-928-7777
University of Bristol
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Research links 29 genome regions with common form of inflammatory bowel disease
2. Study of nutrition, Alzheimers links hampered by research approach
3. Gene links to anorexia found by Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia researchers
4. Research links damaged organs to change in biochemical wave patterns
5. Budding research links climate change and earlier flowering plants
6. Study links normal function of protein, not its build up inside cells, to death of neurons
7. UCI-Scripps study links cellular motors to memory
8. Sociological study links state tax credit programs to higher birth weight
9. Study links African ancestry to high-risk breast cancer
10. TGen-led studies identify genetic links to kidney disease, kidney failure
11. Scientist links increase in greenhouse gases to changes in ocean currents
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/7/2017)... -- Brandwatch , the leading social intelligence company, today announces ... to uncover insights to support its reporting, help direct future campaigns, ... leading youth charity will be using Brandwatch Analytics social listening and ... understanding of the topics and issues that are a priority for ... "Until ...
(Date:3/2/2017)... , March 2, 2017 Summary ... understand Perrigo and its partnering interests and activities since 2010. ... Read ... Deals and Alliance since 2010 report provides an in-depth insight ... life sciences companies. On demand company reports are ...
(Date:3/2/2017)... 2017 Australian stem cell and regenerative medicine ... signed an agreement with the Monash Lung Biology Network, ... Institute and Department of Pharmacology at Monash University, ... study to support the use of Cymerus™ mesenchymal stem ... Asthma is a chronic, long term lung condition ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/23/2017)... San Diego, Calif. (PRWEB) , ... March 23, 2017 , ... Lajollacooks4u is proud to ... in 2008, it has hosted corporate cooking challenges for companies around the world, such as ... , Part of the reason for its increasing popularity is due to its new ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... 23, 2017  Northwest Biotherapeutics (OTCQB: NWBO) (NW ... therapies for solid tumor cancers, today announced that ... it announced last Friday, March 17, 2017. ... investors securities totaling 28,843,692 shares, comprised of 18,843,692 ... shares of Class C Warrants pre-funded at the ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... -- GlobeImmune, Inc. today announced it has entered into a ... of its common stock to NantCell, Inc., a member ... sale of its common stock, NantCell has agreed to ... 200,000 shares, an estimated $2.0 million in value, of ... to enter into this strategic agreement with NantCell," said ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... March 23, 2017 , ... ... was recently selected by the Connecticut Technology Council (CTC) as a 2017 Women ... CTC’s thirteenth annual Women of Innovation Awards Dinner. , The dinner recognizes women ...
Breaking Biology Technology: