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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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UK a step closer to ivory ban

News Story 1
 A UK ban on ivory sales is one step closer to coming into force, as the government has introduced the Ivory Bill to parliament. The ban covers items of all ages, rather than just ivory carved after 1947. Anyone breaching the ban will face an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

Conservationists have welcomed the bill, which comes less than six weeks after the government published the results of a consultation on this issue. Around 55 African elephants are now slaughtered for their ivory every day and the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth £17 billion a year.  

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Strategic alliance to support development of agri-food sector

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast have formed a new strategic alliance that will see both institutions form a research and education partnership.

Under the agreement, the organisations will pool their resources and expertise to support the development of the agri-food sector. It will work across three core themes: enabling innovation, facilitating new ways of working and partnerships.