Myotis mystacinuswhiskered bat

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Geographic Range

Whiskered bats, Myotis mystacinus, are found throughout the Paleartic region. Most populations occur in central Europe. They range from roughly 65° latitude in the north, to as far south as the Mediterranean. (Schober and Grimmberger, 1997)

Habitat

Myotis mysticinus is found in open habitats, including parks, towns, and gardens. Schober (1997) states that it is more of a house-bat than a forest-bat. It is found at moderate elevations, between 1800 and 1923 m. (Schober and Grimmberger, 1997)

  • Range elevation
    1800 to 1923 m
    5905.51 to 6309.06 ft

Physical Description

Whiskered bats are among the smallest European Myotis species. These tiny bats weigh between 4 and 8 grams. Head-body lengths range from 35 to 48 mm, and tail lengths range from 30 to 43 mm. Wingspan generally ranges from 190 to 220 mm. (Schober and Grimmberger, 1997)

A distinct indentation is located on the outside portion of the long, pointed ear. The ears are complex, having four to five horizontal folds in the inner section. The fur of these bats is long and coarse, and varies in color throughout the body. The wing membrane, muzzle, and ears are blackish brown. The dorsal fur is normally a dark, nut-brown or gray-brown. Some individuals may be light brown, but this is uncommon. The ventrum is typically dark to light gray. (Schober and Grimmberger, 1997)

  • Range mass
    4 to 8 g
    0.14 to 0.28 oz
  • Range length
    65 to 91 mm
    2.56 to 3.58 in
  • Range wingspan
    190 to 225 mm
    7.48 to 8.86 in

Reproduction

The mating system of this species has not been reported. However, within the genus, polygyny appears to be common, with males forming harems of 2 to 7 females. Myotis mystacinus may be similar. (Nowak, 1999)

Mating begins in the fall and continues into the winter, at which time the animals enter their winter roost for hibernation. Whiskered bats exhibit delayed implantation of the embryo, which continues its development in the spring, as well as sperm storage. This makes it difficult to say for sure how long gestation lasts. Beginning about mid-June, the females give birth to a single young. Within the first year of life females reach sexual maturity. (Altringham, 1996; Schober and Grimmberger, 1997)

  • Breeding interval
    Whiskered bats apparently breed annually.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding typically occurs in late summer or fall.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 1
  • Average number of offspring
    1
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    within 1 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    365 days
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    456 days
    AnAge

In May the females form maternity roosts that consist of 20to 70 females. Males are solitary during this time, and do not participate in parental care. Females care for the young, providing them with milk, protection, and grooming until August, at which time the maternity roosts break apart. (Schober and Grimmberger, 1997)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

The average lifespan in the wild is 3.5 years. Individuals have been known to live more than 19 years. (Schober and Grimmberger, 1997)

Behavior

Myotis mystacinus is mainly a social species, and is almost always found living in large groups. The exception to this sociality is that while the females occupy maternity roosts, the males are solitary. Winter roosts consisting of up to 100 individuals and are dominated by males. These bats hibernate in the winter. (Altringham, 1996; Schober and Grimmberger, 1997)

Most whiskered bats are permanent residents to the area they were born. They have been known to migrate small distances. The farthest recorded migration is 240 kilometers. (Schober and Grimmberger, 1997)

Like other members of the genus, these bats are nocturnal and crepuscular. They spend their days in a roost, then venture out to forage during the night. (Nowak, 1999)

Home Range

The size of the home range for this species has not been reported. (Schober and Grimmberger, 1997)

Communication and Perception

Whiskered bats emit FM echolocation calls from 32 to 75 kHz, and send out 8 to 9, 2.5 ms signals every second. These range in distance from 5 meters up to 20 meters. It is thought that these vocalizations are used for locating food, rather than for communication. (Altringham, 1996)

Although the remainder of the communication of this species has not been reported, we can infer that they have other vocalizations which they use to communicate with conspecifics. They probably also use tactile communication, especially in the roost, where they come into close contact with other bats. As mammals, it is likely that there is some chemical or scent communcation.

Food Habits

Whiskered bats depart from roosts early in the evening to feed on a variety of insects. Most commonly they hunt 1.5 to 6 meters above the ground in parks, gardens, and over bodies of water. They have been known to hunt in forests on occasion. Mosquitoes, moths, small dragonflies, mayflies, and small beetles make up the majority of their diet. (Schober and Grimmberger, 1997)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects

Predation

There are no known predators of whiskered bats. However, owls, hawks, and falcons will take bats if given the opportunity. (Altringham, 1996)

Ecosystem Roles

Whiskered bats feed on a variety of flying insects, so they probably have a negative impact on insect populations. (Schober and Grimmberger, 1997)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Bats are important predators of many different types of insects, including mosquitoes, which are vectors for many infectious diseases. They are also feed on other insects that cause agricultural damage. (Altringham, 1996)

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of Myotis mystacinus on humans. Bats in general have been known to carry human diseases such as rabies, and whiskered bats in particular are associated with human dwellings. (Altringham, 1996)

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

Conservation Status

Myotis mystacinus is not protected under CITES or IUCN. In western Germany, the species is listed as severly endangered. Eastern Germany and Austria have it listed as Endangered. In order to protect the remaining populations in these areas, winter and maternity roosts are being protected from human disturbance. (Schober and Grimmberger, 1997)

Contributors

Nancy Shefferly (), Animal Diversity Web.

Josh Tamling (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor, instructor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

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.

crepuscular

active at dawn and dusk

delayed implantation

in mammals, a condition in which a fertilized egg reaches the uterus but delays its implantation in the uterine lining, sometimes for several months.

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates

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.

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

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.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

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

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

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).

urban

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

vibrations

movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others

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

Altringham, J. 1996. Bats Biology and Behavior. New York: Oxford University Press Inc..

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Schober, W., E. Grimmberger. 1997. The bats of Europe and North America. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications, INC..