29 March 2010

Rhea gets FAZIT stipend

AFL member Rhea von Busse has received a FAZIT stipend, which is a foundation of the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), which is one of the biggest, reputable German newspapers. They are mainly known to support Journalists in their career but they also support scientific research by giving stipends to doctoral and postdoctoral candidates. Rhea says "I didn’t even know that they provide PhD stipends, but one of the grant counselors at my University told me to apply there and don’t feel discouraged by their guidelines, which mostly address Journalists.". Rhea has collected all of her data to finnish her PhD thesis, and now "only" has to analyze those and write up some manuscript.

Congratulations to Rhea!

16 March 2010

Bat ecology on SVT Play

Yesterday, monday 15 March, SVT sent a nature film following a group of Germans and US scientists working with bats on Barro Colorado, Panama. This rater small island holds 72 species of bats and one main question addressed by these biologists is: how can they co-exist in such a small area. The answer is multi-faceted, including roost sites, food type and flight/foraging altitude. We can see the biologists catching bats, filming them in infrared, recording their sounds and making experiments. Even if the film is narrated in Swedish (could be a good practice for those who are still learning swedish), the scientists themselves speak in english. I liked the film and strongly recommend it to everybody in AFL. It can bee seen at

12 March 2010

Rabies in Swedish bats

Bats can get infected about a form of rabies (Lyssa virus), which rarely also can be transferred to other mammals, including Homo sapiens. Out of four fatal cases in Europe during the last few decades two have been bat researchers, so there is a small risk of handling wild bats in Europe. However, Sweden has thus far been without any reported cases of rabid bats. But new samples taken during 2009 in Skåne found antibodies against bat rabies in eight Daubenton's bats (Myotis daubentoni), according to a press release yesterday. These bats are non-migratory (at least we think so), and therefore they should have been in contact with actually sick bats at some stage. Hence, Sweden is no longer a rabies-free territory. But this is a fully expected result considering that rabies is found in our neighboring countries Denmark and Finland, and is common in Germany and Poland. Since many bats migrate to continental Europe it would have been strange if infected bats never turned up in Sweden. This new finding does not change any of the official recommendations for us working with bats, which include being vaccinated and wearing a glove when handling (such as ringing) bats. More information can be found at www.naturvardsverket.se/fladdermus .