Autumn swarming behaviour of Natterer’s bats in the UK

Autumn swarming behaviour of Natterer’s bats in the UK: Population size, catchment area and dispersal

by: N.M. Rivers, R.K. Butlin & J.D. Altringham

"Many species of temperate bats visit underground sites in autumn, prior to hibernation, and chase each other in and around the entrances in an event known as autumn swarming. It has been suggested that swarming is a mating event that facilitates gene flow between bats from otherwise isolated summer colonies. We describe swarming behaviour at a cluster of four caves in the North of England and provide direct evidence for seasonal migration of Natterer’s bats (Myotis nattereri ) between these caves and many summer nursery roosts in a catchment area of at least 60 km radius. Mark-recapture analysis suggests that an estimated 2000–6000 Natterer’s bats use the three best-studied caves, together with smaller numbers of four other species: M. daubentonii, M. brandtii, M. mystacinus and Plecotus auritus. Recaptures also show that there is a small interchange of bats between these three caves, which are 0.6–1.5 km apart. Capture rates, automatic logging and video recordings at one cave suggest that an average 310–400 bats visit the cave each night. Mating at swarming sites would be particularly important for gene flow if a species showed no other dispersal pattern. We provide evidence for natal philopatry, with little or no dispersal, in both sexes of Natterer’s bats. The protection of swarming sites is discussed in light of our findings. "
Biological Conservation Volume 127, Issue 2 , January 2006, Pages 215-226
Abstract on ScienceDirect: Click here

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