Nathusius's pipistrelle (Pipistrellus nathusii) is a small bat, with long wings (2). It was not known to breed in Great Britain until as recently as 1997 (4). The fur on the back is reddish brown during summer and moults to a darker brown in winter. The belly is a lighter, yellowish-brown throughout the year (2). The wing membranes, tail and short triangular ears are blackish-brown (2).
Bats are the only true flying mammals. In Britain they are insectivorous (eat insects), and contrary to popular misconception they are not blind; many can actually see very well (8). All British bats use echolocation to orient themselves at night; they emit bursts of sound that are of such high frequencies they are beyond the human range of hearing and are therefore called 'ultrasound' (6). Bats listen to and interpret the echoes bounced back from objects, including prey, around them, allowing them to build up a 'sound-picture' of their surroundings (6). Nathusius's pipistrelles produce echolocation calls at frequencies between 38 and 70 kHz (5). They emerge during early dusk (2) and hunt with fast manoeuvrable flight, for flying insects (2).
Mating takes place between late July and early September (2), during this time a single male defends a mating territory of three to ten females against other males (2). Fertilisation is delayed until the following spring (8), as females store sperm inside their uterus (womb) during hibernation(4). In April and May maternity roosts of 50 to 200 females form (2). Two young are normally produced in late July, which are able to fly at four weeks of age (2). In autumn, many individuals undertake a migration to the southwest in order to escape the worst of the winter weather (8); occasionally individuals have covered distances of more than 1,000 kilometres in parts of Europe (6). This bat is known to live to a maximum of seven years (2).
Nathusius's pipistrelle occurs mainly in central and eastern Europe, with possible populations in Spain, Portugal, and Scandinavia. There are few records from Britain, all of which have been from south England (5). Breeding colonies are known in Lincolnshire and Northern Ireland (6), and the discovery of populations of Nathusius's pipistrelle is becoming more frequent (7).
A species of woodland, parks, and more rarely areas with human settlement (2). Nathusius's pipistrelle is often found in riparian habitats (6). Maternity roosts occur in hollow trees and bat boxes, and hibernation takes place in crevices in cliffs, walls, hollow trees and caves (2).
Nathusius's pipistrelle is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1). In Great Britain, all bats are fully protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) as amended, and by the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc) Regulations (1994). An agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe (EUROBATS) under the auspices of the Bonn Convention, also known as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) is in force, and all European bats are listed under Appendix II of the CMS (3).
Like all bats, Nathusius's pipistrelle is vulnerable to a number of threats, including the loss of roost sites; hollow trees are often felled if thought unsafe or 'untidy'. Habitat change and loss, affecting the availability of insect prey and causing the fragmentation of feeding habitat is a serious problem for many bats, furthermore pesticide use has devastating effects, by causing severe declines in insect prey abundance, and contaminating food with potentially fatal toxins (3).
In Britain, bats benefit from a comprehensive level of legal protection (3). Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is illegal to intentionally kill, injure, take or sell a bat, posses a live bat or part of a bat, to intentionally, or in England and Wales, recklessly damage obstruct or destroy access to bat roosts. Under the Conservation Regulations it is an offence to damage or destroy breeding sites or resting places. Fines of up to £5,000 per bat affected and six months imprisonment are in place for these offences (9). Several species of bat also benefit by the public putting bat boxes up. Research and proposals for conservation action have been made for this species under the Agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe (part of the Bonn Convention, or Convention on Migratory Species). This work will help to protect the transboundary habitats of this migratory species (10).
A group of organisms living together, individuals in the group are not physiologically connected and may not be related, such as a colony of birds. Another meaning refers to organisms, such as bryozoans, which are composed of numerous genetically identical modules (also referred to as zooids or 'individuals'), which are produced by budding and remain physiologically connected.
Detecting objects by reflected sound. Used for orientation and detecting and locating prey by bats and cetacea (whales and dolphins).
The fusion of gametes (male and female reproductive cells) to produce an embryo, which grows into a new individual.
A winter survival strategy characteristic of some mammals in which an animal's metabolic rate slows down and a state of deep sleep is attained. Whilst hibernating, animals survive on stored reserves of fat that they have accumulated in summer. In insects, the correct term for hibernation is 'diapause', a temporary pause in development and growth. Any stage of the lifecycle (eggs, larvae, pupae or adults) may enter diapause, which is typically associated with winter.
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