We are investigating the effect of wing tears on bats in a large research project in collaboration with the RSPCA and Bat Conservation Trusts, funded by an REI grant from MMU. An interdisciplinary team at MMU are leading the research, including MSc students: Abigail Case, Joanne Horton and Chris Nuttall, along with academics Dr Kirsty Shaw (lecturer in Forensic Biology), Dr Glen Cooper (senior lecturer in Biomaterials) and Dr Robyn Grant (Lecturer in Animal Behaviour and Physiology). We have a number of research questions, including i) investigating the cause of wing tears, ii) the risky times of the year, and also investigating iii) the effect of wing tears on flight and iv) the tensile strength of the wing.
Joanne Horton is studying an MSc Animal Behaviour at MMU, and is also a bat carer. She has a large flight cage set up in her spare room, and has been using a video camera to film, and then track, the wing movements of healthy bats, and those with wing tears.
The figure above shows stills from high-speed video of Elliott, a healthy common pipistrelle, who has been over-wintering in Joanne’s bat hostel. He has since been released. We hope to compare healthy bats, like Elliott, to bats with wing tear, and show that even bats with wing tears can be successfully rehabiltated. This has not really be quantitatively shown yet, although some evidence from the RSPCA records have found that rehabilitation is possible, even from substantial wing tears. We will let you know our findings as we test intensely this summer.
If you would like with any of our other studies, such as by photographing an injured bat or swabbing a wing tear for forensic analysis, then please visit our website.