When I first started on my PhD at the beginning of 2016, lots of things had already been done over the previous year, by Abbie Case and Joanne Horton, both MSc students from MMU, and I was really excited to do more over the next few years.
We started by advertising the project and collecting a lot of data from bat carers, who sent us many pictures of bat wings and swabs from injured bat wings. We will start analysing the swabs in the autumn to find whether traces of cat DNA can be found.
We have also looked at the anatomy of the bat wing and have found that the fewest number of vessels and lowest vessel density were in the plagiopatagium section of the wing, which is closest to the body. We have also looked at all the photographs sent by bat carers and found that the most tears also occur in the plagiopatagium. Unfortunately, this part is the worst part to be injured, as its healing process will be slower than that of the other wing parts, due to its fewer blood vessels.
We have also filmed seven bats so far at Lower Moss Wood Wildlife Hospital (three healthy bats, two bats with an injury on one wing, and two bats with an injury on both wings). Preliminary data has shown that there are some significant differences in bats with wing tears, for example the body orientation is affected in bats with two wing tears. We are really looking forward to go back this year with MSc student Charlotte Mead for more filming.
As well as getting together all these preliminary analyses, I have also presented my work at the National Bat Conference and the internal postgraduate research conference at Manchester Metropolitan University. You may have also seen us presenting our work, and recruiting bat carer helpers, at the Mammal Society Conference. I have thoroughly enjoyed this year, and can’t wait to receive more samples this summer to see if our predictions still hold true.
If you would like to get involved please let us know on the website, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org