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Hydrogen isotopes reveal evidence of migration of Miniopterus schreibersii in Europe.

BMC Ecology 2020 September 30
BACKGROUND: The Schreiber's bat, Miniopterus schreibersii, is adapted to long-distance flight, yet long distance movements have only been recorded sporadically using capture-mark-recapture. In this study, we used the hydrogen isotopic composition of 208 wing and 335 fur specimens from across the species' European range to test the hypothesis that the species migrates over long distances.

RESULTS: After obtaining the hydrogen isotopic composition (δ2 H) of each sample, we performed geographic assignment tests by comparing the δ2 H of samples with the δ2 H of sampling sites. We found that 95 bats out of 325 showed evidence of long-distance movement, based on the analysis of either fur or wing samples. The eastern European part of the species range (Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia) had the highest numbers of bats that had moved. The assignment tests also helped identify possible migratory routes, such as movement between the Alps and the Balkans.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first continental-scale study to provide evidence of migratory behaviour of M. schreibersii throughout its European range. The work highlights the need for further investigation of this behaviour to provide appropriate conservation strategies.

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