by Academician Vladimir BOLSHAKOV, Director, Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, RAS Ural Branch,
and Oleg ORLOV, researcher of the same Institute
The preservation of biodiversity is one of the vitally important problems on our agenda today when we are faced with a mounting impact of man on nature and ecosystems- what scientists call the anthropogenic pressure on the environment. Studies of various aspects of this general problem are currently on the agenda of many institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences and also colleges and universities.
Looking at this problem from our own angle, we regard as one of most interesting groups of animals found within the bounds of this country the bats-flying mammals belonging to the order Chiroptera (of 981 species). These are the only mammals capable of what we call active flight and many of these species are now listed as endangered ones in the Red Data Books of Russia and its individual provinces and in the international rosters of species threatened with extinction. To give just one example, bat species like the water bat (Myotis daubentoni), the pond bat (Myotis dasycneme), the brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus) and the northern bat (Eptesicus nilssoni), dwelling in the Urals were entered in the Red Data Book of the Middle Urals (1996), and the pond bat and the long-eared bat are also on the European Red Data roster.
The insect-eating, or insectivorous bats (Microchiroptera) use echolocation for navigation and catching prey on the wing, and, like birds, they migrate over large distances. One interesting feature of their biology in the conditions of this country's middle and northern regions is their ability to withdraw into long wintertime hibernation, during which their metabolism is sharply reduced, the same as the functions of all body organs. The bats find optimal conditions for wintering in caves which offer them practically constant air temperature (above zero) and increased humidit ... Читать далее