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Measuring the effect of wing tears on flight in common pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)

Khayat, Rana, Shaw, kirsty ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9241-4195, Mead, Charlotte, Ryan, Hazel, Dougill, Gary ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8885-6166, Melling, Louise ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7690-5429 and Grant, Robyn (2020) Measuring the effect of wing tears on flight in common pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipistrellus). Mammal Communications, 6. pp. 11-20. ISSN 2056-872X

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Abstract

Bat wings are susceptible to tearing. Many bats are admitted to care with wing tears and their flight is subjectively measured prior to release. This study presents a new method to objectively measure the effect of bat wing tears on the flight of common pipistrelle bats, Pipistrellus pipistrellus. Bats were filmed and their wing movements and body positions tracked using freely available software. Results found that bats with bilateral tears moved their wings with smaller movements, and with more wing beats per second. Bats with wing tears tended to tilt their whole body towards the healthier wing - which is the wing with no or smaller wing tears. Differences in wing movements and body positioning suggest that flight might be affected in bats with wing tears, and future work should assess whether foraging and survival are also affected in these animals.

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