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Mammalian Biology

, Volume 72, Issue 3, pp 129–144 | Cite as

Growth of horseshoe bats (Chiroptera: Rhinolophidae) in temperate continental conditions and the influence of climate

  • C. DietzEmail author
  • Isabel Dietz
  • B. M. Siemers
Original investigation

Abstract

Growth characteristics of three species of horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, R. euryale and R. mehelyi) were studied in northern Bulgaria, and measurements of cohorts born there in different years were compared interannually. Bulgarian horseshoe bats are usually born in the first 3 weeks of June and start to leave the roost at an age of about 3 weeks. Young horseshoe bats of all three species had attained more than 95% of the adult dimensions at the time when they started to regularly leave the cave to forage on their own in mid of July. Individually marked juvenile R. ferrumequinum reached adult dimensions in most external wing measurements in the first half of August. Accordingly the pooled measurements of all juveniles did not differ anymore from those of adult bats in the second half of August. The same pattern was found in R. mehelyi and R. euryale. We found a clear relationship between the climatic conditions prevailing in each year and the final size of individuals born respectively in those years. Whereas previous studies have addressed climatic effects only on several bat species along their northern limits of distribution, these data provide the first evidence for an influence of climate on the growth of individuals in the centre of the species’ distributions.

Key words

Rhinolophus ferrumequinum R. euryale R. mehelyi growth climate 

Wachstum von Hufeisennasen-Fledermäusen (Chiroptera: Rhinolophidae) unter temperatkontinentalen Bedingungen und der Einfluss des Klimas

Zusammenfassung

Wir untersuchten das Wachstum dreier Arten von Hufeisennasen-Fledermäusen (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, R. euryale und R. mehelyi) in Bulgarien und verglichen Messwerte verschiedener Geburtsjahrgänge. Bulgarische Hufeisennasen-Fledermäuse werden in der Regel in den ersten drei Juni-Wochen geboren und verlassen das Quartier erstmals in einem Alter von etwa drei Wochen. Mit dem Beginn des selbstständigen Beuteerwerbs ab Ende Juli erreichen die Jungtiere aller drei Arten bereits mehr als 95% der adulten FlügelmaXe in vier MeXstrecken. Individuell markierte Jungtiere der Großen Hufeisennase (R. ferrumequinum) erreichten in den meisten Flügelmaßen Adultdimen-sionen in der zweiten Augusthälfte. Entsprechend wichen dann auch die gemittelten Maße aller Jungtiere ab Ende August nicht mehr von denen adulter Tiere ab. Ein vergleichbares Muster wurde auch bei R. mehelyi und R. euryale gefunden.

Wir konnten weiterhin eindeutige Größenunterschiede zwischen verschiedenen Geburtsjahrgängen nachweisen, die mit Klimabedingungen während der Wachstumsphase in Zusammenhang zu bringen sind. Anhand dieser Daten kann erstmals ein Einfluss des Klimas auf das Wachstum von Individuen im Zentrum ihres Verbreitungsgebietes gezeigt werden. Bisherige Untersuchungen konnten solch einen Einfluss lediglich auf Population an den nördlichen Verbreitungsgrenzen der Arten nachweisen.

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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Animal Physiology, Zoological InstituteUniversity, TübingenTübingenGermany

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