Myotis daubentoniiDaubenton's myotis(Also: Daubenton's bat)

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Geographic Range

Daubenton’s bats, Myotis daubentonii, inhabit the majority of the Paleartic region, occurring from Ireland, Portugal and Norway through continental Europe and northern Asia to continental Japan, Kamchatka, China and Korea. In Europe, they range from 63 °N in Scandinavia to 40 °N in Greece. Within Japan, they is only found on the island of Hokkaido. Daubenton’s bats can also be found in south-western and central China. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Corbet and Hill, 1991; Horacek, et al., 2000)

Habitat

Daubenton's bats prefer to live in areas with extensive still water lakes, ponds, and streams for foraging, and deciduous and mixed forests for roosting. During the summer, Daubenton's bats seem to prefer cavities of deciduous trees for roosting sites, but they may also be found under bridges, in buildings, bird boxes, bat boxes, rock crevices and the nests of sand martins. They prefer oak trees over other tree species and natural cavities over cavities created by woodpeckers. Daubenton’s bats may prefer natural crevices as they are formed by rot, which is indicative of humid conditions. Crevices found near the edge of a wood are also preferred, likely because of increased light exposure during the day, which aids in thermoregulation. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Boonman, 2000; Jones and Rayner, 1988)

Nursery roosts of Daubenton’s bats are usually found in lower altitudes, most likely because these areas have higher ambient temperatures and lower precipitation. These nursery colonies are predominantly composed of females and can be occupied by more than 100 individuals. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Holweg and Wolters, 2005; Swift and Racey, 1983)

In the winter, hibernacula are typically found in underground sites such as caves, mines, bunkers, and cellars. Temperatures of the hibernaculum can range from 0 to 10 ° C but are usually 2 to 6 °C or 3 to 8 °C. A minimum humidity of 70 % is needed for overwinter survival, and most hibernation roosts occur in sites with over 85 % humidity. It is not uncommon for Daubenton’s bats to form clusters with other bat species with similar thermal preferences (i.e., Myotis natlereri). (Bogdanowicz, 1983; Bogdanowicz, 1994)

In the summer, the upper altitudinal limit of Myotis daubentonii is 400 to 700 m, and in the winter, 300 to 1100 m. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Corbet and Hill, 1991; Horacek, et al., 2000)

  • Range elevation
    summer 700; winter 1100 (high) m
    ft

Physical Description

Daubenton’s bats are medium-sized bats with a body mass between 5 and 15 g. Females are on average slightly larger than the males. Daubenton’s bats have a head and body length of 40 to 60 mm and a wingspan of 240 to 275 mm. The forearm measures 33 to 42 mm and the tail length is between 27 and 48 mm.

Newborn bats typically have a mass of 1.6 to 2.4 g. Their mean head and body length is 32.8 mm, and they have a mean tail and forearm length of 15.7 and 14.9 mm respectively. (Bogdanowicz, 1994)

The short, dense fur of Daubenton’s bats is characterized as brown-gray to a slightly red dark bronze on the dorsum and silver-gray to white on the belly. The wings are reddish or dark brown but never black. The face is blunt and pinkish with bare, hairless patches around the eyes. The ears are short and rounded and clearly separated. The pinnae have 4 to 5 transverse folds and are 10.5 to 14.2 mm in length. The tragus has a height half that of the pinna and a width one-fifth the pinna length.

Newborn Daubenton’s bats have short, gray-brown hair on the dorsal side and a pinkish ventral side. The ears and wing membranes are gray-brown. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Yoshiyuki, 1989)

Some diagnostic characters of Daubenton’s bats include a large foot that is half the length of the tibia, a long and slender calcar that is about two-thirds the margin of the uropotagium, a plagiopatagium that inserts in the middle of the metatarsus, and a relatively broad penis that is not bulbous. (Bogdanowicz, 1994)

Daubenton’s bats have a smooth and relatively flat and broad skull. The postorbital processes, temporal crest, and sagittal crest are weak and not very prominent. The lambdoidal crest is quite laterally strong but is obscure medially. The auditory bullae are also quite large and cover two-thirds of the cochleae. The dental formula is: I2/3, C1/1, P3/3, M3/3 for a total of 38 teeth. The upper molars have well developed protoconules on the anterior edge. (Bogdanowicz, 1994)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range mass
    5 to 15 g
    0.18 to 0.53 oz
  • Range length
    40 to 60 mm
    1.57 to 2.36 in
  • Range wingspan
    240 to 275 mm
    9.45 to 10.83 in

Reproduction

Daubenton’s bats are typically promiscuous (males and females mate with multiple partners). Mating is unstructured, with little to no male courtship display. Males, however, actively search roosts for females and create special mating roosts during the late summer. Most copulations occur in these special mating rosts. (Bogdanowicz, 1994)

Male and female Daubenton’s bats reach sexual maturity in their first year. Males are typically able to reproduce during and after August of their first year, though some may not reach full maturity until their second summer. Mating typically occurs as soon as the males reach the hibernaculum and continues from August to April. However, most copulation occurs between October and November. Most mating occurs ventro-dorsally and is typically accompanied by distinct vocalizations and body positions. Copulation lasts approximately 15 to 30 min. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Encarnacao, et al., 2004)

Female Daubenton’s bats exhibit delayed ovulation. Fertilization occurs in early spring, and pregnancy lasts from 53 to 55 days. Pups are born from June to July. Although females have a high food requirement during pregnancy, pregnant females often have a reduced foraging rate. Lactating females have lower energy requirements than pregnant individuals but tend to have a further reduced foraging range. While the actual lactation period is not well recorded, it is usually thought to occur between June and July. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Dietz and Kalko, 2007)

During birth, female Daubenton’s bats reverse their typical “head-down” position so that the young are born into the uropatagium of the mother. Litter size typically consists of a single pup, rarely two. Young are born blind but have well developed sensory hairs. The eyes open within 8 to 10 days. The deciduous teeth are almost completed erupted at birth, and permanent teeth erupt on the 8th day. Permanent tooth development and eruption is complete around the 31st day. Pups obtain their complete cover of hair on the 21st day, and hair development is complete between the 31st and 35th day. Young are able to fly by 3 weeks of age and attain full adult form within 9 to 10 weeks. (Bogdanowicz, 1994)

  • Breeding interval
    Males and female Daubenton’s bats breed multiple times in a year.
  • Breeding season
    Daubenton’s bats generally mate between October and March.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
    1
  • Range gestation period
    53 to 55 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    1 to 2 years

Mother Daubenton’s bats likely use olfactory and auditory cues to recognize their young in nursery roosts. Similar behavior is seen in little brown bats. It is possible that nursing females do not actively groom themselves or their young, as nursing females and juveniles have a significantly higher parasite load compared to non-nursing females and solitary males. Juveniles are weaned around August. Information regarding parental care in this species is poorly documented. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Crichton and Krutzsch, 2000; Lucan, 2006)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

The mean life expectancy of Daubenton’s bats in the wild is 4.5 years, and mean longevity is 5.0 years. Although the predicted potential lifespan of a Daubenton’s bat is approximately 20 years, the oldest individual recorded in the wild was 28 years old.

In the Netherlands, survivorship of juveniles within the first half of their life was 50% and was 80% for adults. There was no difference in survival between age and sex groups or between hibernacula (Bogdanowicz, 1994). (Bogdanowicz, 1994)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    28 (high) years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    4.5 years

Behavior

Daubenton’s bats are nocturnal and leave their roosts about 30 to 60 minutes after sunset. They frequently change summer roosts, as often as every 2 to 3 days for females. Details regarding the social behaviour of the Daubenton’s bat are poorly documented.

Males regularly enter daily torpor but do so less frequently during spermatogenesis. Females enter daily torpor in the late summer after juveniles are weaned but avoid it during pregnancy and lactation. While in torpor, Daubenton's bats maintain a heart rate of 108 to 120 beats/minute, and skin temperature drops to 8.9 to 10.2 °C. After waking, they have a heart rate of 450 to 750 beats/minute and skin temperature is raised to 36.5 to 37.6 °C. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Dietz and Kalko, 2006; Encarnacao, et al., 2006; Lucan and Radil, 2010; Lucan, 2006)

Daubenton’s bats typically hibernate from September to March, though many other bats begin hibernation in October and November. The number of individuals inhabiting a single hibernaculum can vary but typically does not exceeding 140. Females leave hibernacula later than males; this late departure may help females conserve energy until more resources are available in the late spring. Dispersal distance from winter to summer roosts typically does not exceed 100 km. In Britain, dispersal distance is typically less than 19 km while in continental Europe it ranges from 0.5 to 88 km.

During hibernation, the time spent in torpor depends on the temperature of the hibernaculum; duration of torpor decreases as temperature increases. On average, bats wake every 22 days when hibernaculum temperature is 3 to 5 °C, 14 to 18 days when 5 to 7 °C, and 14 to 16 days when 7 to 9 °C. Maximum torpor duration is 79 days.

Daubenton’s bats maintain body water and accumulate urine during hibernation. Muscle water content remains constant at 66.1 % while in hibernation, slightly lower than water content in August, which averages 69.3 %.

Daubenton’s bats lose approximately 20 to 21 % of their body mass in 100 days of hibernation. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Dietz and Kalko, 2006; Encarnacao, et al., 2006; Lucan and Radil, 2010; Lucan, 2006)

Home Range

The average distance between roosting sites and preferred foraging ground of Daubenton’s bats is approximately 236 m. The maximum distance found between a roost and forage site was 800 m. Although territoriality has been observed when strong winds limit foraging area, Daubenton’s bats usually forage in groups in non-restricted feeding sites. (Bogdanowicz, 1994)

Communication and Perception

Female Daubenton’s bats emit social calls while inside nursery summer roosts. The frequency of social calls while foraging is low but increases dramatically when males chase other males from a foraging area. It is possible that females recognize their young through olfactory and auditory cues. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Lucan and Radil, 2010)

Daubenton’s bats produce frequency modulated (FM) calls that sweep from 70 to 95 kHz to 25 to 30 kHz and last 3 to 4 milliseconds during the search phase. The bandwidth of the first harmonic during search flight is approximately 70 kHz. Pulse intervals are highly variable. The approach and terminal phases are characterized by an increasing reduction of both sound duration and pulse interval. The terminal phase is separated by a longer interval and involves two buzz phases. The second buzz has a lower frequency than the first, dropping from 25 to 30 kHz to 22 to 18 kHz. At the end of the second buzz phase, the bandwidth of the first harmonic may drop as low as 10 kHz. When emerging from the roost, calls last 2.2 to 3.8 milliseconds and are spaced 56 to 103 milliseconds. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Kalko and Schnitzler, 1989)

Food Habits

Daubenton’s bats are opportunistic insect predators. They feed primarily on aquatic insects of the order Diptera. Approximately 96 % of their diet consists of male midges that swarm above the water’s surface as females emerge from the water. Other aquatic insects, such as crane flies, black flies, biting midges, fungus gnats, and dagger flies make up 2 % of their diet. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Kalko and Schnitzler, 1989)

Both in captivity and in the wild, Daubenton’s bats occasionally use their large feet to lift small jumping fish that break the water’s surface. Little data is available regarding the importance of piscivory to the diet of Daubenton’s bats. (Siemers, et al., 2001)

Daubenton’s bats catch their prey from still water surfaces using slow hawking and gaffing techniques. Flight path while searching for prey is greatly affected by size of the foraging site. In a more confined site (i.e., small drainage canals), Daubenton’s bats fly alone in straight paths. At larger sites such as lakes and ponds, they forage alongside other individuals. Searching typically takes place within 30 cm of the water’s surface. When a prey insect is detected, Daubenton’s bats approach either directly or with sharp turns. Flight speed is reduced slightly during low catches closer to the water surface and is drastically reduced during high catches farther from the water’s surface. Prey is captured by the feet or the interfemoral membrane and is eaten when seized.

Pregnant females and males undergoing spermatogenesis have a higher energy demand than post-lactating females and normal condition males. Assuming a 92 % catch rate, pregnant females have an insect intake of 8.0 g while post-lactation females have an intake of 4.9 g. Similarly, males undergoing spermatogenesis have an insect intake of 8.0 g while normal males have an intake of 3.6 g. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Dietz and Kalko, 2007; Encarnacao and Dietz, 2006; Encarnacao, et al., 2010; Flavin, et al., 2001; Jones and Rayner, 1988; Kalko and Schnitzler, 1989; Lucan and Radil, 2010)

  • Animal Foods
  • fish
  • insects

Predation

Although many mammalian and avian species have been recorded preying on Daubenton’s bats, none seem to be habitual predators. In most instances, predators seem to take advantage of high bat densities. Domestic cats, beech martens, dormice, wood mice, and shrews are the most commonly reported species that prey on Daubenton’s bats. Common avian predators include barn, tawny, and long-eared owls, however Daubenton’s bats make up less than 1.0 % of all vertebrates eaten by these owls. Other predators include buzzards, large frogs, and large fish. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Ruprecht, 1979)

Ecosystem Roles

Daubenton’s bats are effective insect predators and likely have an effect on aquatic insect populations. One individual consumes 3.6 to 4.9 g of insects in one night, and pregnant females and males undergoing spermatogenesis consume approximately 8.0 g of insect material per night. (Holweg and Wolters, 2005)

Daubenton’s bats host a variety of parasites, particularly bat flies. Common bat flies that parasitize Daubenton’s bats are Nycteribia kolenatii, N. schmidlii, N. vexata, Penicillidia monoceros, and Basilia nana. Mites (Spinturnix andegavinus), ticks (Carios vespertilionis), flukes (Plagiorchis vespertilionis), and fleas also parasitize Daubenton's bats. The flea species Ischnopsyllus simplex (in the west) and Myodopsylla trisellis (in the Far East) are commonly found on Daubenton's bats, though neither are host specific. (Bogdanowicz, 1994)

Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Daubenton’s bats play an important role in controlling populations of the many pest species they feed on (Holweg and Wolters, 2005)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Daubenton’s bat serve as a reservoir species for the EBLV-2 virus, which causes rabies in humans. However, this virus is maintained at low levels in the population and transmission to humans is low. The principle means of transmission of this virus is by bite from an infected bat. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Brookes, et al., 2005; Johnson, et al., 2008)

  • Negative Impacts
  • injures humans
    • carries human disease
  • household pest

Conservation Status

Myotis daubentonii is an abundant species found through the majority of the Palearctic region. Within recent decades, population numbers have increased, possibly due to favorable climate change and increased food abundance. It is designated as a “species of interest” by the European Union Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora. It is considered a species of "least concern" by the IUCN. (Bogdanowicz, 1994; Holweg and Wolters, 2005; Lucan and Radil, 2010)

Other Comments

Daubenton’s bats, Myotis daubentonii, once included three subspecies: M. d. daubentonii, M. d. laniger, and M. d. petax. The latter two subspecies have since been given specific rank. (Bogdanowicz, 1990; Bogdanowicz, 1994; Matveev, et al., 2005)

Contributors

Timothy Gingera (author), University of Manitoba, Jane Waterman (editor), University of Manitoba, Gail McCormick (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Glossary

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

arboreal

Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

colonial

used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.

delayed fertilization

a substantial delay (longer than the minimum time required for sperm to travel to the egg) takes place between copulation and fertilization, used to describe female sperm storage.

echolocation

The process by which an animal locates itself with respect to other animals and objects by emitting sound waves and sensing the pattern of the reflected sound waves.

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

heterothermic

having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

hibernation

the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

migratory

makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

piscivore

an animal that mainly eats fish

polygynandrous

the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

riparian

Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

sperm-storing

mature spermatozoa are stored by females following copulation. Male sperm storage also occurs, as sperm are retained in the male epididymes (in mammals) for a period that can, in some cases, extend over several weeks or more, but here we use the term to refer only to sperm storage by females.

suburban

living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

ultrasound

uses sound above the range of human hearing for either navigation or communication or both

urban

living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

Bogdanowicz, W. 1983. Community structure and interspecific interactions in bats hibernating in Poznan. Acta Theriologica, 28(23): 357-370.

Bogdanowicz, W. 1990. Geographic variation and taxonomy of Daubenton’s bat in Europe. Journal of Mammalogy, 71(2): 205-218.

Bogdanowicz, W. 1994. Myotis daubentonii. Mammalian Species, 475: 1-9.

Boonman, M. 2000. Roost selection by noctules (Nyctalus noctula) and Daubenton's bats (Myotis daubentonii). Journal of Zoology, 251: 385-389.

Brookes, S., J. Aegerter, G. Smith, D. Healy, T. Jolliffe, S. Swift, I. Makie, J. Pritchard, P. Racey, N. Moore, A. Fooks. 2005. European bat Lyssavirus in scottish bats. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 11(4): 572-578.

Corbet, G., J. Hill. 1991. A world list of mammalian species. London: Oxford University Press.

Crichton, E., P. Krutzsch. 2000. Reproductive Biology of Bats. London: Academic Press.

Dietz, M., E. Kalko. 2007. Reproduction affects flight activity in female and male Daubenton’s bats. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 85: 653-664.

Dietz, M., E. Kalko. 2006. Seasonal changes in daily torpor patters of free-ranging female and male Daubenton’s bats. Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 176: 223-231.

Encarnacao, J., N. Becker, K. Ekschmitt. 2010. When do Daubenton’s bats fly far for dinner?. Can. J. Zool., 88: 1192-1201.

Encarnacao, J., M. Dietz. 2006. Estimation of food intake and ingested energy in Daubenton’s bats during pregnancy and spermatogenesis. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 52: 221-227.

Encarnacao, J., M. Dietz, U. Kierdorf. 2004. Reproductive condition and activity pattern of male Daubenton’s bats in the summer habitat. Mammalian Biology, 69: 163-172.

Encarnacao, J., U. Kierdorf, K. Ekschmitt, V. Wolters. 2006. Age-related variation in physical and reproductive condition of male Daubenton’s bats (Myotis daubentonii). Journal of Mammalogy, 87(1): 93-96.

Flavin, D., S. Biggane, C. Shiel, P. Smiddy, J. Fairley. 2001. Analysis of the diet of Daubenton’s bat in Ireland. Acta Theriologica, 46(1): 43-52.

Holweg, D., V. Wolters. 2005. Sex-related differences in roost-site selection by Daubenton’s bats Myotis daubentonii during the nursery period. Mammal Review, 35: 285-294.

Horacek, I., V. Hanak, J. Gaisler. 2000. Bats of the palearctic region: a taxonaomic and biogeographic review. Proceedings of the VIIIth EBRS, 1: 11-157.

Johnson, N., A. Vos, L. Neubert, C. Freuling, K. Mansfield, I. Kaipf, A. Denzinger, D. Hicks, A. Nunez, R. Franka, C. Rupprecht, T. Muller, A. Fooks. 2008. Experimental study of European bat lyssavirus type-2 infection in Daubenton's bats. Journal of General Virology, 89: 2662-2672.

Jones, G., J. Rayner. 1988. Flight performance, foraging tactics, and echolocation in free-living Daubenton’s bats Myotis duubentoni (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae). Journal of Zoology, 215: 113-132.

Kalko, E., H. Schnitzler. 1989. The echolocation and hunting behaviour of Daubenton’s bat. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 24: 225-238.

Lucan, R., J. Radil. 2010. Variability of foraging and roosting activities in adult females of Daubenton’s bat in different season. Biologia, 65(6): 1072-1080.

Lucan, R. 2006. Relationships between parasitic mite Spinturnix andegavinus (Acari: Spinturnicidae) and its bat host, Myotis daubentonii (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae): seasonal, sex- and age-related variation in infestation and possible impact of the parasite on the host condition and roosting behaviour. Folia Parasitologica, 53: 147-152.

Matveev, V., S. Kruskop, D. Kramerov. 2005. Revalidation of Myotis petax Hollister, 1912 and its new status in connection with M. daubentonii (Kuhl, 1817) (Vespertilionidae, Chiroptera). Acta Chiropterologica, 7(1): 23-37.

Ruprecht, A. 1979. Bats as constituents of the food of barn owls Tyto alba in Poland. Ibis, 121: 489-494.

Siemers, B., C. Dietz, D. Nill, H. Schnitzler. 2001. Myotis daubentonii is able to catch small fish. Acta Chiropterologica, 3(1): 71-75.

Swift, S., P. Racey. 1983. Resource partitioning in two species of vespertilionid bats (Chiroptera) occupying the same roost. Journal of Zoology, 200: 249-259.

Vaughan, N. 1997. The diets of british bats (Chiroptera). Mammal Review, 27(2): 77-94.

Yoshiyuki, M. 1989. A systematic study of the Japanese Chiroptera. Tokyo: National Science Museum.