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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

This bat preys on larger insects, mainly beetles, which they hunt for about four to five hours after emerging late in the evening. They are known to forage on the ground for some of their insect prey. Male greater mouse-eared bats are polygamous, and may have a harem of up to five females. The females form large maternity roosts in attics or caves and give birth to one offspring, usually in June. When they leave to feed, females leave their babies in a crèche and there are often several females left to guard the roost. The young bats can fly after three weeks, and become sexually mature at three months.
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Description

The greater mouse-eared bat is one of the larger European bats and has become extinct in England. Its fur is a medium-brown colour on the upper body, and greyish-white underneath. It has large ears with a very prominent tragus, the organ which is part of the bat's echolocation system.
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Distribution

Range Description

Myotis myotis is a western Palaearctic species; it occurs in western, central and southern Europe (with individual records from southern England and southern Sweden) and in Asia Minor and in the Levant.
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Geographic Range

This species is found throughout Eurasia and part of northern Africa. It has gone extinct in the United Kingdom after 1990.

Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native )

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Range

This species is found across central Europe and in scattered populations across southern Europe, but is threatened with extinction across the whole of its range. It used to be found in Dorset and Sussex, but was officially declared extinct in Britain in 1990.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

M. myotis are relatively large bats, with long ears, overall length 6.5-8.0 cm, broad wingspan 36.5-45.0 cm, and forearm length about 5.7 cm. Adult body weights are about 20-45 g. Females are larger than males.

M. myotis are very similar to M. blythii phisically.

Range mass: 20 to 45 g.

Range length: 6.5 to 8.0 cm.

Range wingspan: 36.5 to 45.0 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It forages over woodland edge, open woodland and pasture. It preys on large insects, mainly beetles and crickets, gleaned from the ground, also feeds on spiders. It roosts in underground sites all year in much of range, and in buildings (loft-spaces) in summer in northern parts. Occasionally it forms small colonies in trees. It is an occasional migrant; the longest recorded movement is 436 km (Simon et al. 2004).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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M. myotis primarily inhabit caves and buildings such as churches and castles. They also dwell in relatively open, lightly wooded forests.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban

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Greater mouse-eared bats are usually found around human settlements. They probably used caves as roosting sites, and today they hibernate in both caves and mines. They hunt in forests and adjoining cultivated areas.
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

These bats are opportunistic predators. They primarily feed on ground beetles such as carabids (Carabidae), but also prey on large moths and grass beetles whenever possible. M. myotis prefer feeding in open woodland with ground cover of few grasses. They may have evolved to catch ground beetles on the soil surface. However, they may select alternative preys if primary sources do not meet their requirements. They consume around 25-50% of body weight nightly.

Animal Foods: insects

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )

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Associations

Animal / parasite / ectoparasite
Basilia nana ectoparasitises Myotis myotis
Other: minor host/prey

Animal / parasite / ectoparasite
Nycteribia kolenatii ectoparasitises Myotis myotis
Other: minor host/prey

Animal / parasite / ectoparasite
Phthiridium biarticulata ectoparasitises Myotis myotis

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Predation

The main factor that causes decline of M. myotis populations may be human disturbance. People both use agrochemicals which poison bats, or disturb caves that causes death at roosts. In addition, large scale agricultural change has reduced areas of open ground and increase grassland, and this also results in reductions in the number of bats.

Known Predators:

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Known predators

Myotis myotis is prey of:
Homo sapiens

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Known prey organisms

Myotis myotis preys on:
Insecta

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Life span in Myotis is usually 6 to 7 years, but M. myotis were recorded as 13 years old in the United Kingdom. In wild, some may survive up to 22 years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
22 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
13 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
18.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 22 years (wild)
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Reproduction

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

M. myotis are early breeders. Ovulation and fertilization may take place during February mostly, or in October if birth occurs in winter. Gestation period is about 60-70 days. Births take place mostly in April to June, but some were observed in winter. After birth, young M. myotis remain fixed on their mothers for about 2 weeks. Female M. myotis mate again as soon as the young become independent. Females store sperm in the uterus, but eggs are not fertilized until the next spring.
Babies are born with claws on their hind feet and milk teeth. They are blind at birth. The young become independent after 2 months and start to feed on insects. They must accumulate sufficient fat reserves for hibernation.

Breeding season: Late spring to summer.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 2.

Average number of offspring: 1.

Range gestation period: 60 to 70 days.

Average weaning age: 60 days.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); viviparous ; sperm-storing

Average birth mass: 5.9 g.

Average number of offspring: 1.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
502 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
502 days.

Parental Investment: altricial

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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Internal magnetic compass recalibrates: greater mouse-eared bat
 

The internal magnetic compass of greater mouse-eared bats can be calibrated with directional reference from the setting sun.

     
  "Recent evidence suggests that bats can detect the geomagnetic field, but  the way in which this is used by them for navigation  to a home roost remains unresolved. The geomagnetic  field may be used by animals both to indicate direction and to locate  position. In birds, directional information appears  to be derived from an interaction of the magnetic field with either the  sun or the stars, with some evidence suggesting  that sunset/sunrise provides the primary directional reference by which a  magnetic compass is calibrated daily. We  demonstrate that homing greater mouse-eared bats (Myotis myotis)  calibrate a magnetic compass with sunset cues by testing their homing  response after exposure to an altered magnetic field  at and after sunset. Magnetic manipulation at  sunset resulted in a counterclockwise shift in orientation compared with  controls,  consistent with sunset calibration of the magnetic  field, whereas magnetic manipulation after sunset resulted in no change  in orientation. Unlike in birds, however, the  pattern of polarization was not necessary for the calibration. For  animals that  occupy ecological niches where the sunset is rarely  observed, this is a surprising finding. Yet it may indicate the primacy  of the sun as an absolute geographical reference  not only for birds but also within other vertebrate taxa." (Holland et al. 2010:6941)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Holland, RA; Borissov I; Siemers BM. 2010. A nocturnal mammal, the greater mouse-eared bat, calibrates a magnetic compass by the sun. PNAS. 107(15): 6941-6945.
  • Harmon K. 2010. Bats re-tune echolocation and use the sun's glow to navigate near and far. Scientific American [Internet],
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Myotis myotis

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Myotis myotis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 15
Specimens with Barcodes: 27
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Hutson, A.M., Spitzenberger, F., Aulagnier, S., Coroiu, I., Karataş, A., Juste, J., Paunovic, M., Palmeirim, J. & Benda, P.

Reviewer/s
Hutson, A.M., Racey, P.A. (Chiroptera Red List Authority) & Temple, H. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
The species experienced a significant population reduction in the past but is now stable (at lower densities) or recovering throughout the range. The range is still wide and the population large (tens of thousands of individuals in various countries). Consequently it is assessed as Least Concern.

History
  • 1994
    Vulnerable
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
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IUCN status category: Low risk, near threatened.

Red book: vulnerable.

Numbers have declined fast recently and the species has gone extinct in northwestern Europe.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Status

Classified as Extinct in the UK. Listed under Appendix II of the Bonn Convention, Annex II of the Berne Convention, Annex II & IV of the EC Habitats Directive and Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (as amended).
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Population

Population
A common species in most of its distributional range, populations of several regions are fluctuating in numbers. During the 1980s and 1990s in central Europe there were increases in numbers following major declines in earlier decades. It forms large nursery colonies (tens to thousands of individuals) in caves, in central Europe also in loft spaces. In Austria the population was estimated to be 76,000 individuals in 1999 and is still increasing (Spitzenberger 2002, F. Spitzenberger pers. comm. 2006). In France 37,000 individuals were recorded in summer 1995 (Roue and Groupe Chiropteres 1997); trend data are not available. A small population went extinct in Britain in 1990 (A. Hutson pers. comm. 2006). In the Balkans and in Turkey it is stable.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
In Europe, it is a typical species of agricultural mosaic landscapes, therefore agricultural activities (e.g., pesticide use, intensification that leads to loss of scrubby patches, hedgerows, and small woods) can affect populations of this species. Loss of or damage to roost sites in underground habitats and buildings is a major problem in places.
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The greater mouse-eared bat was only discovered in Britain in 1958, and the last specimen was recorded in 1990. It is not clear why it became extinct in Britain although it is known never to have been a common animal. One possibility is that the nursery roosts of this bat were subject to disturbance and destruction. They are extremely susceptible to the chemicals used to treat timber roofs (as are all bats), and it is possible that this process destroyed their maternity roosts.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Protected by national legislation in most range states. Also international legal obligations for protection through Bonn Convention (Eurobats) and Bern Convention in range countries where those apply. Included in Annex II (and (IV) of EU Habitats and Species Directive, and hence requiring special measures for conservation including designation of Special Areas for Conservation. Some habitat protection through Natura 2000.

In Spain it is recommended that not only should the roosts be protected but also the surrounding countryside - a 20 km zone around the most important colonies should be maintained under traditional agricultural practices.

Research is required into the use of anti-parasitic drugs on livestock and their effect on dung beetles and other invertebrate fauna attracted to dung, as this bat species feeds on these invertebrates.
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Conservation

As this bat has been extinct in the UK for some years, work on conserving it has concentrated on preparing a plan should it ever re-colonise the British Isles. There are regular surveys of its former sites, and, as a commitment to this species, the greater mouse-eared bat is still listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plans (UK BAPs).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Greater mouse-eared bat

The greater mouse-eared bat, Myotis myotis, is an European species of bat in the Vespertilionidae family.

Description[edit]

It is relatively large for a member of the Myotis genus, weighing up to 45 grams (1.6 oz) (a little larger than a house mouse, Mus musculus), making it one of the largest European bats.[1]

Foraging[edit]

Like its relatives it eats various arthropods; however, unlike many bats it does not capture prey by echolocation in flight but instead gleans it from the ground, locating the prey passively – listening for the noises produced by creatures such as carabid beetles, centipedes and spiders.[2] Thus, it uses echolocation only for spatial orientation, even if it emits ultrasound calls when approaching prey.[3]

Roosts[edit]

In summer, nursery roosts in northern Europe are located almost exclusively in large attics of buildings (e.g. churches), while in southern Europe they are located in caves. Also solitary males can roost there, although in some countries (Germany, western Poland) there are regular cases of roosting in bird and bat boxes. Greater mouse-eared bats spend winter exclusively in underground roosts, like caves, mines, forts, tunnels and large cellars.

Echolocation calls[edit]

The frequencies used by this bat species for echolocation lie between 22 and 86 kHz, have most energy at 37 kHz and have an average duration of 6.0 ms.[4]

Distribution[edit]

The greater mouse-eared bat can be found in the following countries: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Gibraltar, possibly Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

Great Britain[edit]

During the 20th century this species was known as a very rare one in Great Britain, occurring only in southern England. However, the bats at the only known hibernation roost declined until only a few males were left, and when these disappeared the species was believed extinct.[5] However, in recent years occasional individuals have been discovered, suggesting either that a colony survives, or that further animals have colonised from mainland Europe.[6]

Italy[edit]

In 2012, a LIFE-Nature project was initiated, aiming to protect the several thousands of Greater Mouse-eared Bat in the Gola della Rossa and Frasassi Nature Park in the Marches.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Van den Brink, F H, A Field Guide to Mammals of Britain and Europe, Collins 1967, ISBN 0-00-212093-3
  2. ^ Siemers, B.M., and Güttinger, R. (2006) 'Prey conspicuousness can explain apparent prey selectivity.' Current Biology., 16 (5): R157-R159.
  3. ^ Russo, D., Jones, G. and Arlettaz, R. (2007) 'Echolocation and passive listening by foraging mouse-eared bats Myotis myotis and M. blythii.' The Journal of Experimental Biology., 210: 166-176.
  4. ^ Obrist, M.K., Boesch, R. and Flückiger, P.F. (2004) 'Variability in echolocation call design of 26 Swiss bat species: Consequences, limits and options for automated field identification with a synergic pattern recognition approach.' Mammalia., 68 (4): 307-32.
  5. ^ Species Action Plan: Greater Mouse-eared Bat (Myotis myotis)
  6. ^ BBC Inside Out: The Search for the Greater Mouse-eared Bat
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