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6 July 2022 Winter torpor and activity patterns of a fishing bat (Myotis macropus) in a mild climate
Alice E. Barratt, Leroy Gonsalves, Christopher Turbill
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Small insectivorous bats often enter a state of torpor, a controlled, reversible decrease in body temperature and metabolic rate. Torpor provides substantial energy savings and is used more extensively during periods of low temperature and reduced prey availability. We studied torpor use and activity of a small (10.1 ± 0.4 g) fishing bat, Myotis macropus, during winter in a mild climate in Australia. We predicted that the thermal stability of water would make foraging opportunities in winter more productive and consistent in a riparian habitat compared to a woodland habitat, and therefore, fishing bats would use torpor less than expected during winter compared to other bats. Using temperature-sensitive radio transmitters, we recorded the skin temperature of 12 adult (6 M, 6 F) bats over 161 bat-days (13.4 ± 5.4 days per bat) during Austral winter (late May to August), when daily air temperature averaged 6.2–18.2°C. Bats used torpor every day, with bouts lasting a median of 21.3 h and up to 144.6 h. Multiday torpor bouts were more common in females than males. Arousals occurred just after sunset and lasted 3.5 ± 2.9 h. Arousals tended to be longer in males than females and to occur on warmer evenings, suggesting some winter foraging and perhaps male harem territoriality or other mating-related activity was occurring. The extensive use of torpor by M. macropus during relatively mild winter conditions when food is likely available suggests torpor might function to minimize the risks of mortality caused by activity and to increase body condition for the upcoming breeding season.

Alice E. Barratt, Leroy Gonsalves, and Christopher Turbill "Winter torpor and activity patterns of a fishing bat (Myotis macropus) in a mild climate," Journal of Mammalogy 104(1), 76-85, (6 July 2022).
Received: 4 January 2022; Accepted: 1 June 2022; Published: 6 July 2022
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