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Bats probe the aerosphere during landscape-guided altitudinal flights

ABSTRACT – As the only mammals capable of powered flight, bats make efficient use of the aerosphere. Yet, our understanding of how bats use the three-dimensional air column is sketchy. By attaching miniaturised Global Positioning System tags to cave bats near a mountain ridge in Thailand, we show that these bats perform undulating ascending and descending flights in quick succession. Bats repeatedly used mountain slopes to ascend to altitudes of more than 550 m above the ground. We infer that mountain ridges are key habitat features for some open-space foraging bats, facilitating altitudinal movements which may aid effective foraging and navigation. Therefore, the development of wind farms along mountain ridges might lead to conflicts with the conservation of some open-space foraging bats.

Manuel Roeleke and Christian C. Voigt, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and Department of Animal Behaviour, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Sara Bumrungsri, Department of Biology, Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Songkla, Thailand

Mammal Review. Pubished online 30 October 2017. doi: 10.1111/mam.12109 [1]

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