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Climate Change Helps Bats to Spread their Wings

Climate change is most likely behind the extraordinary spread of a type of vesper bat across Europe over the last four decades. Kuhl's pipistrelle has extended its range by nearly 400 percent, says Leonardo Ancillotto, lead author of a study supervised by Danilo Russo of the University of Naples Federico II in Italy, in Springer's journal The Science of Nature. It is the first to record a range expansion for bats on such a continental scale.

Pipistrelles are very adaptable bats, and can roost and thrive in a variety of landscapes, including urban areas. These characteristics made the Kuhl's pipistrelle (Pipistrellus kuhlii) a good species to study, as part of efforts by Russo's research team to understand what drives the ongoing distribution and movement of animals across different regions.

The team collected 25,132 high-resolution records of where the bat occurred in Europe between 1980 and 2013. These were used in conjunction with various models to predict whether the colonisation of new areas over the years has been prompted by increased urbanisation or by changes in the climate.

Michael Pennay

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