It was found out by scientists that some bats, especially in Portugal experienced disrupted life cycles. They said that extreme weather in Europe caused this.
It was revealed that bats in Portugal either did not hibernate in the winter or gave birth early. Scientists described it as a “phenological mismatch.” Not only are bats being affected by the weather but also birds and other wildlife. Those bats which are born early may be at risk due to lack of insect food.
Dr. Hugo Rebelo from the University of Porto, who studies the effect of climate change to bat species, a phenological mismatch meant that a bat’s birth is synchronized with the time of appearance of insects. When bats give birth, there will be food for bats to eat and feed their young. Dr. Rebelo added that because of the changed weather patterns, it could not be determined if “everything is being mixed up.”
Since the 1980s, rare bat species have been closely monitored in Portugal. For them to survive, bats must hibernate in the winter because there are not enough insects for them to eat.
Dr. Luisa Rodrigues, who is a biologist at The Institute of Conservation of Nature and Forests in Lisbon, discovered that bats in Portugal had been born much earlier. She said that it was a rare occurrence, only finding two babies among 500 bats she saw in 20 caves when she visited in January and February.
Even though these are rare cases, Dr. Rodrigues noted that it is a sign of the continued need to monitor bat species. Researchers are concerned that the mild weather in the southern part of Portugal is disrupting the bats’ hibernation cycle.
If bats come out of their hibernation earlier than expected, it could be a struggle for them to find food especially if there is an occurrence of spring rain. This situation could lead to malnutrition and colossal mortality among bats.
Meanwhile in the UK, horseshoe bats are also experiencing the effects of extreme weather. Because they do not hibernate, bats get pregnant sooner.
The most common species of bats are the bent-wing bat and the mouse ear bat. They hibernate from December until late February. The bent-wing bat has already been classified as Near Threatened by International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Meanwhile, the mouse ear bat could be found in western, central, and southern Europe and they are the first ones to give birth, usually in April.