ASK about the species and sequencing.
CHAT in a 30 minute text chat with the species champion.
VOTE for a species to be sequenced for the first time ever!
The nights are getting colder now and there are fewer moths around to eat. I'll be looking for somewhere to hibernate soon.
Estimated at 5000 individuals
Estimated at 2-3 Gb
Bats are an ancient and diverse group of mammals that originated about 65 million years ago. We don’t know for certain who our most recent common ancestor with humans is, but it probably lived about 80 million years ago and may have looked something like a small shrew. But good news! Sequencing my genome will help us understand more clearly than ever how we are related!!
I should be sequenced because... I’m disappearing! My genome will tell us about how adaptable I am to future threats, and how and why bats evolved echolocation and flight.
I am a rare and threatened bat. Across Europe my numbers are decreasing. In some countries, I have already gone extinct! I live in old forests and love to hunt moths at night over rivers and fields. Although I am small I can fly fast and I travel many kilometers each night in search of food. I use echolocation to ‘see’ the world around me in the dark, but I am not blind and actually I see quite well.
Much of my forest home has been lost due to logging, and so in the UK there are few natural places left now where I can live. If I am to survive in the future, I will need your help.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Forest sky master
What's it like where you live?
I live inside the cracks and crevices of old trees in mature forests. The best forests are those that have remained unchanged by humans for many years. I move home often, sometimes every few days, to avoid being found by predators. If there aren’t many good trees around I sometimes live in old barns. When I’m flying at night I spend most of my time along rivers, woodland edges and hedgerows where I can find lots of moths to eat. I’m a shy animal, so I prefer to stay away from towns and cities.
What's your favourite food?
I love to eat moths more than anything else because they are packed full of energy and have fewer hard crunchy parts to chomp through than other insects. I do occasionally eat other insects though, like small flies and lacewings. I am perfectly adapted to hunting moths in the night sky. The shape of my wings allows me to fly like an aerobatic stunt plane, and my quiet squeaks (echolocation calls) and big broad ears enable me to ‘see’ the world around me and catch my prey in pitch darkness.
What's your family life like?
In summer, I live inside trees with up to 100 close relatives. We give birth to one baby each, called a ‘pup’. At first, we raise our pups on milk, but within 6-8 weeks the pups learn to fly and leave the tree at night with their mothers to feed on insects. In winter, I hibernate to conserve energy because there aren’t many moths around to eat. I like to hibernate in places where the temperature is cold but stable, such as in caves or mines or deep inside big old trees.
Are you endangered or threatened by anything?
Yes, I’m threatened by the loss of old forests and the use of chemicals in farming. Much of my natural forest home has now disappeared because so many trees have been cut down for wood. Unfortunately, it takes hundreds of years for these forests to grow back. When farmers spray crops with chemicals to control insect pests many other insects die too, including the moths we eat. There are far fewer moths around nowadays, making it harder for me to raise my pups and survive the winter.
What's the best thing about you/interesting fact?
I am a stealth hunter of the night sky! Bats use echolocation to ‘see’ and hunt insects at night. Over millions of years, moths and other insects have evolved simple ears to detect the echolocation calls of bats and this has helped to protect insects from being eaten by bats. In response, I now call very quietly so that I can sneak up on moths without being detected. Because of this, I am known as the ‘whispering bat’, and pound-for-pound I eat more energy-rich moths than any other bat! Yum!!
The champion of this species is...
Dr Orly Razgour from the University of Southampton & Dr Matt Zeale from the University of Bristol