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Bat lifecycle disrupted by rising temperatures
Researchers in Portugal have been monitoring bat roosts since the 1980s.
Some Mediterranean bats ignored hibernation this year

The lifecycle of European bats appears to have been disrupted by rising temperatures, according to new research.

Speaking to BBC News, Dr Hugo Rebelo of the University of Porto said that some bats in the Mediterranean had ignored hibernation altogether this year, while some produced young early.  

Dr Rebelo is concerned that some bats born early could suffer from a lack of insects to feed on.  

“It's a phenological mismatch," he said. "What this means is that the bat birth is more or less synchronised with the time of emergence of insects so that when bats give birth there are plenty of resources to feed on and then to feed their own pups.

"With these chaotic weather patterns we are having now in winter and spring we don't know if everything is being mixed up.”

Researchers in Portugal have been monitoring bat roosts since the 1980s. To make it through the winter, bats need to hibernate as there are not enough insects to eat.

In January and February this year, Dr Luísa Rodrigues, a biologist at The Institute of Conservation of Nature and Forests in Lisbon, visited 20 caves in Portugal and discovered bats that had been born very early.

While Dr Rodrigues only observed early births in one of the roosts, she said that it is a sign that the situation needs to be continually monitored.

"It's not a red alert but it's something that we need to be conscious of," she told BBC News.

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”