No lunar phobia in swarming insectivorous bats (family Vespertilionidae)

Authors


*All correspondence to: Jens Rydell. E-mail: jens.rydell@zool.gu.se

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of moonlight on the swarming activity of bats at an abandoned mine in southern Sweden. The mine serves as a hibernaculum for six species of insectivorous bats. Swarming activity at one of the mine entrances was measured on 12 nights between 1 August and 8 September 2000, by electronically counting the number of bats passing through an opening (about 30×40 cm) leading to a mine tunnel. The number of bat passes outside the mine was also counted, using a bat detector. Most bats were males, as confirmed by mist-netting outside the mine. Low frequency vocalizations, indicating territorial interactions, were heard frequently. The number of bats entering the mine was closely correlated with the number of bats flying outside, and neither was affected by moonlight. We conclude that the insectivorous bats at high latitudes may not have been exposed to significant nocturnal predator pressure, leading to the evolution of lunar phobia, as have many tropical bats.

Ancillary