Latvia boasts world's first net for migrating bats

"The study of bat migration is still in its infancy," said Gunārs Pētersons.
By Brooks Hays   |   Aug. 18, 2014 at 6:52 PM

PAPE, Latvia, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- A giant funnel trap is set to begin catching migrating bats this week in Latvia -- the first of its kind. The project is a collaboration between researchers at German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and the Institute of Biology of the Latvian University of Agriculture..

The massive net was recently erected at IZW's ornithological field station in Pape, Latvia. Captured specimens will aid a research project on the biology of migratory bats. Little is known about the nocturnal travelers, but biologists are hopeful that the net and the research it enables will offer insight into details like flight paths, hibernation areas and metabolism.

"Owing to decades of bird banding, ornithologists already know much about the migration of birds," Gunārs Pētersons, associate professor at the Latvian University for Agriculture, said in a statement. "However, the study of bat migration is still in its infancy."

The net is designed to catch bats as they migrate along the edge of the Baltic Sea. Near Pape, the shoreline of the Baltic is narrowed by the encroaching Lake Pape, creating a bottleneck effect and squeezing migrating bats into a concentrated area.

"There are very few places worldwide where it is possible to observe and catch migrating bats in sufficient numbers," said Pētersons. "There is no other place in Europe to observe so many migrating bats at the same time."

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