Faculty of Biological Sciences

Research Bulletin

Bat bridges don't work

11th June 2012

Wire bridges built to guide bats safely across busy roads simply do not work, University of Leeds researchers have confirmed.

Bat bridges donIn a study published today (13 June 2012) in PLoS ONE, a team from the University's Faculty of Biological Sciences monitored four wire bridges spanning major roads in the north of England. All had been built over the last nine years to replace hedgerows - the bats' established commuting routes - when these routes were severed by new roads. Roads act as barriers to bats, cutting colonies off from established feeding sites and reducing their ability to feed themselves and their young1. Most species of bat fly relatively close to the ground or close to trees and hedges, for protection against the weather and potential predators. Those that do cross roads typically do so at traffic height, with a high risk of collision - so the wire bridges are a common conservation measure aimed at encouraging bats to cross above the traffic. Using bat detectors - which pick up the bats' high frequency echolocation calls - and night video equipment, the team measured the height at which bats crossed the road and their proximity to the wire bridges and compared the results with bats crossing at nearby severed hedgerows without wire bridges. The Leeds team showed that almost all the bats in the study favoured their former commuting routes rather than the wire bridges, crossing the road at a low height. There was no evidence to suggest that the bats changed their behaviour in response to the bridges, even over time. A well-established wire bridge built nine years ago and only 15 metres from the severed commuting route it replaced was still spurned by the bats. Study leader, Professor John Altringham said: "The results of this research are relevant to small insectivorous bats worldwide and highlight the impact of roads on wildlife in general." Under UK and European law, governments have an obligation to ensure that development does not have a detrimental effect on populations of protected species. Wire bridges are assumed to act as artificial aerial hedges, guiding bats safely over traffic and are an increasingly favoured mitigation tool across Europe. Referring to the costs associated with the installation of bat bridges2, Professor Altringham says: "Conservation measures are sometimes widely implemented without evidence to support their effectiveness, and large sums of public money are being spent without any proven benefit to nature." The paper's lead author, PhD student Anna Berthinussen, said: "Many bat species forage up to several kilometres from their roost, so our road system is an ever expanding network of life-threatening hurdles the bats must overcome. Our findings raise concerns about how we can build or improve roads without impacting on these protected species. "We need to find solutions that really work and suggest that alternative designs are investigated and, most importantly, tested more effectively than they have been in the past." Ms Berthinussen has also been investigating the extent to which bats make use of underpasses built to carry roads and footpaths under roads. Of three underpasses studied, only one was used extensively by bats, but she believes there may be potential to improve their attractiveness to bats. References (1) In a previous study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology last year, the Leeds team showed that the number and diversity of bats can be significantly depleted near major roads. (doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2011.02068.x) (2) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-15320603 Photo courtesy of Anna Berthinussen

Recent Grants

Neil Ranson, Mark Harris, Ade Whitehouse, Peter Stockley, Sheena Radford, Alan Berry, Wellcome Trust (Mar 2016), £1,000,000

Alan Berry, Wellcome Trust (Oct 2015), £752,365

Steve Sait, NERC (Oct 2015), £386,061

Urwin, Howard Atkinson, BBSRC (Oct 2015), £200,293

Eric Hewitt, Andrew Macdonald, Yorkshire Kidney Research Fund (Oct 2015), £46,621

Ade Whitehouse, Alison Ashcroft, Ian Carr, BBSRC (Sep 2015), £438,975

Dave Westhead, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (Sep 2015), £430,567

Shaunna Burke, Andrea Utley, Sarah Astill, Arts Council of England (Sep 2015), £80,594

Samit Chakrabarty, Ronaldo Ichiyama, Intl Foundn for Research in Paraplegia (Aug 2015), £93,000

Anastasia Zhuravleva, BBSRC (Jul 2015), £483,019

Alex O'Neill, MRC (Jul 2015), £249,822

Ade Whitehouse, Richard Foster, Cancer Research UK (Jul 2015), £201,034

Ronaldo Ichiyama, Jim Deuchars, Sue Deuchars, Wings For Life Spinal Cord Research (Jul 2015), £123,895

Martin Stacey and colleagues in FMH, MRC (Jun 2015), £426,475

Adrian Goldman, Sarah Harris, Roman Tuma, BBSRC (Jun 2015), £420,693

Elwyn Isaac, EU (Jun 2015), £238,915

Christine Foyer, BBSRC (Jun 2015), £160,401

Adrian Goldman, EU (Jun 2015), £116,331

David Brockwell, Sheena Radford, Innovate UK (Jun 2015), £113,378

Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, EPSRC (Jun 2015), £93,672

Michelle Peckham, Peter Knight, Thomas Edwards, BBSRC (May 2015), £404,987

Michelle Peckham, Ed White, Peter Knight, BHF (May 2015), £208,184

Dave Westhead, Sheena Radford, Alex Breeze, BBSRC (May 2015), £51,021

Steve Clapcote, Vitaflo International Ltd (May 2015), £33,703

Les Firbank, Joe Holden, Pippa Chapman, NERC (Apr 2015), £388,726

Samit Chakrabarty, David Steenson, BBSRC (Apr 2015), £120,103

Paul Millner, Gin Jose, Sarah Aickin, DSTL Porton Down (Apr 2015), £63,407

Chris Hassell, David Lewis, The Physiological Society (Apr 2015), £6,900

Andrew Tuplin, Royal Society (Mar 2015), £15,000

Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, Royal Society (Mar 2015), £14,770

Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle, Royal Society (Mar 2015), £13,960

Stuart Egginton, BHF (Mar 2015), £272,979

Keith Hamer, Department of Energy & Climate Change (Mar 2015), £58,066

Andrew Macdonald, Yorkshire Kidney Research Fund (Mar 2015), £41,171

Les Firbank, DEFRA Dept for Env. Food & Rural Affairs (Feb 2015), £20,000

Ian Hope, Marie-Anne Shaw, BBSRC (Jan 2015), £381,998

Paul Knox, BBSRC (Jan 2015), £5,000

Andrew Peel, BBSRC (Jan 2015), £359,077

Christine Foyer, BBSRC (Jan 2015), £408,334

Dave Westhead and colleagues in Experimental Haematology, Cancer Research UK (Jan 2015), £700,521

Mike McPherson, Christoph Walti, DSTL Porton Down (Jan 2015), £625,125

Sheena Radford, Mark Harris, Peter Stockley, Alan Berry, Alex O'Neill, Thomas Edwards, Adrian Goldman, Anastasia Zhuravleva, Wellcome Trust (Jan 2015), £443,015

Alison Ashcroft, Peter Stockley, Sheena Radford, Nicola Stonehouse, David Brockwell, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Jan 2015), £340,937

Bill Kunin, EU (Jan 2015), £157,490

John Colyer, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Charitable Fund (Jan 2015), £40,000

Chris Hassall, Royal Society (Dec 2014), £14,500

Ryan Seipke, Royal Society (Nov 2014), £13,700

Neil Ranson, BBSRC (Nov 2014), £355,253

Alan Berry, Wellcome Trust (Oct 2014), £749,865

Les Firbank, Joe Holden, BBSRC (Oct 2014), £210,302

Darren Tomlinson and colleagues in Chemistry and Pathology, anatomy and Tumour Biology, Dr Hadwen Trusy (Oct 2014), £194,475

Paul Knox, EU (Oct 2014), £167,229

Martin Stacey and colleagues in Medicine & Health, Pfizer (Oct 2014), £90,453

Darren Tomlinson and colleagues in Experimental Oncology, YCR (Oct 2014), £69,480

Andrew Macdonald, Jamel Mankouri, Kidney Research Fund UK (Oct 2014), £58,878

Mike McPherson and colleagues in Dentistry and Engineering, Wellcome Trust (Oct 2014), £58,437

Dave Westhead and colleagues in Experimental Haemotology, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (Sep 2014), £281,424

Emmanuel Paci and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £636,759

Andrew Peel, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £371,598

Lars Jeuken, Stephen Evans, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £333,684

Michelle Peckham, Mark Harris, Rao Sivaprasadarao, Eileen Ingham, Nic Stonehouse, Nikita Gamper, Wellcome Trust (Sep 2014), £192,763

Recent
News

Bats wake up and smell the coffee

20th August 2015

Intensive agriculture is taking a toll on bats in the Western Ghats of India, one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, but shade-grown coffee, remnant rainforest patches and riverine vegetation strips may help struggling species hang on.


Food production shocks 'will happen more often because of extreme weather'

14th August 2015

Professor Tim Benton (biology), from University of Leeds has conducted research that suggests climate change and a rising demand in food from a high population could cause a frightening situation. 


“Brainy” mice raise hope of better treatments for cognitive disorders

14th August 2015

Researchers have created unusually intelligent mice by altering a single gene and as a result the mice were also less likely to feel anxiety or recall fear. 


Study finds non-genetic cancer mechanism

27th July 2015

Cancer can be caused solely by protein imbalances within cells, a study of ovarian cancer has found.


Physiological Society Oral Communication Prize Winners

17th July 2015

Ewan Fowler and Sabine Lotteau from the Cardiovascular, Sport and Exercise Sciences group (School of Biomedical Sciences) have been awarded the Physiological Society’s Oral Communication Prizes


Age doesn’t dull damselflies' love lives

16th July 2015

Aging damselflies never lose their libidos and are just as likely as younger competitors to mate.


The University of Leeds is investing in 250 new academic fellowships.

1st July 2015

Are you one of the 250 Great Minds we are looking for?


Leeds academics recognised for teaching excellence

11th June 2015

Two University of Leeds academics have received a prestigious teaching award, a National Teaching Fellowship.


The Quest to Engineer the Perfect Potato

8th June 2015

Researchers in the U.K. aim for a new commercial potato that resists many of the worst vulnerabilities of potato crops around the world.


University of Leeds announces £17m Astbury BioStructure Laboratory

3rd June 2015

The new facility will provide the University's internationally renowned Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology with instruments for Electron Microscopy and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance that are competitive with the very best in the world.


Impact
Stories

The Ponnambalam laboratory undertakes research relating to cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Professor Sheena Radford has undertaken research to determine how peptides self-aggregate and form fibrils under certain conditions.

Professor Tim Benton has been appointed to the post of UK Global Food Security Champion.

Dr Utley has carried out research over a number of years to increase understanding of the issues faced by children with varying types of movement and co-ordination difficulties.

All impact stories