Population of European Bats Endangered
A warming climate would not only wreak havoc on humans but also take endangered species in Europe to the brink of extinction, according to scientists from the University of Southampton.
Scientists found that grey long-eared bats (Plecotus austriacus) have found favorable places to thrive, especially in the UK. But they say populations in some parts of Europe are threatened by global warming.
The study particularly pointed out that Spain and Portugal have become too harsh for the species to thrive. These nations in southern Europe are known to hold the key for the survival of the species. But this may not be the scenario anymore due to apparent destructive effects of climate changes.
The grey long-eared bat is a fairly large European bat which has distinctive long ears, with a distinctive fold.
The Cause of Concern
Through the use of a new framework created by the scientists, wildlife populations at risk of climate change were identified. The results drew concern for some of the areas in Europe for which conditions have become unfavorable in recent years for the species. These areas in Europe are actually considered places with the highest levels of genetic diversity, making them better suited to the hotter, drier conditions associated with a warming climate.
However, other populations in the region that lack such genetic diversity and are unable to adapt to the harsher conditions could become isolated if they cannot fly to more climatically suitable areas because the landscape in between is unsuitable. Aside from that, harsh conditions could hinder the bats from better-adapted populations – whose genes could help the threatened bat populations survive – from reaching them.
If these things happen, the outcome would be catastrophic for the endangered bats.
Lead author Dr Orly Razgour, of the University of Southampton, explained: “As climate change progresses and the environment becomes less suitable for the bats, they will not only struggle to survive where they are currently found but they will also find it more difficult to shift their range to climatically suitable areas.
“This reduced connectivity between populations will in turn affect the ability to adapt to changing climatic conditions because of reduced movement of individuals that are better adapted to warmer and drier conditions into the population.”
Dr Razgour was funded to conduct the study as part of a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Independent Research Fellowship.