Energetics of whiskered bats in comparison to other bats of the family Vespertilionidae
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionBiology Open. 2021, 10 (8), . 10.1242/bio.058640
Bats inhabit a variety of climate types, ranging from tropical to temperate zones, and environmental differences may therefore affect the basal metabolic rate (BMR) of bats from different populations. In the present study, we provide novel data on the energetics of whiskered bats (Myotis mystacinus), which is the smallest species within Chiroptera measured to date. We investigated the thermoregulatory strategies of M. mystacinus close to the northern limits of this species’ distribution range and compared these data to other vespertilionid bats living in different climates. As mammals living in colder areas experience elevated thermoregulatory costs, often leading to an increase in BMR, we hypothesised that BMR of this northern population of whiskered bats would be higher than that of bats from climates with warm environmental temperatures. From a systematic literature search we obtained BMR estimates (N=47) from 24 species within Vespertilionidae. Our metabolic measurements of M. mystacinus in Norway (body mass of 4.4 g; BMR of 1.48 ml O2 g−1 h−1) were not different from other vespertilionid bats, based on the allometric equation obtained from the systematic literature search. Further, there was no effect of environmental temperature on BMR within Vespertilionidae. How these tiny bats adapt metabolically to high latitude living is thus still an open question. Bats do have a suite of physiological strategies used to cope with the varying climates which they inhabit, and one possible factor could be that instead of adjusting BMR they could express more torpor.