Science Articles

BATS CAN REGULATE THEIR HEARTBEAT TO AVOID STARVATION

A majority of the bats have the capability of conserving their energy in case of shortage of food supply. The insects might not even fly in case of rains or severe cold. Extremely windy conditions make it difficult for the bats to fly and catch prey. Torpor is one condition that the bats go into in case of shortage of food.

A majority of the bats have the capability of conserving their energy in case of shortage of food supply. The insects might not even fly in case of rains or severe cold. Extremely windy conditions make it difficult for the bats to fly and catch prey. Torpor is one condition that the bats go into in case of shortage of food.

 

Torpor is a condition that allows the bats to lower its heartbeat, lower the body temperature and regulate breathing in order to use less energy. Hibernation uses a far harsher torpor than the normal. The bats find a cooler place for going into torpor since it can help them to easily lower their body temperature as per the requirements. A warm area is difficult to migrate to and requires mild torpor every day for facing harsh situations.

THE STUDY

In Panama, bats reside with hunger and starvation. They begin their quest for fig juice at night while using their energy in the process, and they can face death if they fail. In a study, the ecologists found that the bats have the ability to control and regulate their heart beats for saving energy. They slow down their heartbeats while travelling a long distance in order to rest and increase it to fly fast. The bats can function at both ways- at high energy levels and at low energy levels. They can even control their heart rate for even longer periods of time.

 

Teague O’Mara is an ecologist at Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Germany, studied Uroderma bilobatum species of bats to know about their heartbeat patterns. The bats are known for using giant leaves for building their resting place. The team used big antennas, chased after the bats in the night to hear the rate of heartbeats.

THE OBSERVATIONS

791-1066 beats per minute were observed when the bats were in flight mode. Another observation made was that the heart beats of the bats slowed down sharply while resting. The slowed down heartbeat ranged from 300 to 600 beats per minute for a time interval of over 6 minutes. This managed to save more than ten percent of their energy consumption.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The researchers measured the intake of carbon content by the bats, the breath amount to see the conversion of carbon into carbon dioxide and the energy spent. They quickly realised that bats live close to the edge and if they don’t go into torpor, they might die.

 

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