As a Natural Sciences Curator (for a whole 21 more days before I become an ex curator), I feel duty bound to recommend you visit your local museum and find out if:
a) they have bats in their collection
b) they’d like someone to look at them
c) they’d like someone to study them
Why’s that? I hear you ask.
Well you never know just what you’ll find, there might be something worthy of further research and you’ll very likely get to test your ID skills.
Here’s what I found on a recent visit to Leeds Museum.
Labelled as Daubenton’s
This error should be straightforward.
One of Arthur Whitaker’s bats (Arthur Whitaker’s Bats: a booklet reprint of edited articles from the Barnsley born ‘pioneer bat-worker ‘ that had appeared in serial form in The Naturalist in 1905-13 track it down if you can).
As part of the East Lancs Bat Group research into Lesser Horseshoe Bats in Bowland, Lancashire I headed over to York Museum over the Easter break to sample the Lesser Horseshoe bats in their collections to enable us to carry out some dna analysis.
Lesser Horseshoe bats in the Adam Gordan collection
The Adam Gordan collection is interesting as it provides voucher specimens of two species until recently thought to be extinct in the North; Lesser Horseshoe and Barbastelle bat. In fact the Barbastelles in the collection are voucher specimens for the first Yorkshire record of the species in 1920.
Museum collections such as these which are accompanied by good date and location data are highly important now that dna anaylsis is an affordable tool for bat researchers and groups to use.
In the case of our Lesser Horseshoe research we’re hoping that comparison between former northern range specimens and our current Lancashire population will prove that our bats are a remnant population rather than a recent expansion. Comparison with other current UK populations is hinting at it, but hopefully we’ll have an answer just as soon as the results come back.
There’s a similar bit of research with Barbastelles just waiting for someone to carry it out there. Anyone?