Faculty of Biology, University of Latvia
Hard copy: ISSN 1691–8088
On-line: ISSN 2255–9582
Env Exp Biol (2014) 12: 7–14
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Environmental and

Env Exp Biol (2014) 12: 7–14

Orginal Articles

Migrating Nathusius’s pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) optimise flight speed and maintain acoustic contact with the ground

Jurģis Šuba*
University of Latvia, Faculty of Biology, Department of Zoology and Animal Ecology, Kronvalda bulvaris 4, Rīga LV-1586, Latvia
*Corresponding author, E-mail: jurgiss@imap.cc


Populations of Nathusius’s bats Pipistrellus nathusii breeding in north-eastern Europe migrate seasonally to and from hibernation sites in central Europe. Characteristic flight speeds of P. nathusii were calculated based on aerodynamic theory (C.J. Pennycuick and U.M. Norberg) and morphometric data of captured individuals. Actual flight speeds and altitudes of migrating individuals were measured in the field at the Baltic coast of Latvia. The bats flew on average 11.5 m above the ground. The average flight speed ranged from 11.2 up to 13.1 m s–1 (40.3 and 47.2 km h–1) and exceeded the predicted minimum power and maximum range speeds, indicating that P. nathusii minimise the cost of transport or perhaps the duration of the autumn migration flight. The length of the inter-pulse intervals was correlated with the flight height, indicating that P. nathusii adjust the sonar according to the flight altitude to maintain acoustic contact with the ground.

Key words: aerodynamics; Chiroptera; migration; Pipistrellus nathusii; sonar.

Env Exp Biol (2014) 12: 7–14
 DOI: http://doi.org/10.22364/eeb

Prof. Gederts Ievinsh
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