Scientists reveal origins of Hawaiian hoary bat

Local News

It’s Hawaii’s state land mammal, but how much do you really know about the Hawaiian hoary bat?

A team of scientists on the Big Island used DNA sequencing to determine the species migrated to the islands from the west coast of North America in two separate waves.

“We used tiny bits of wing tissue and powerful DNA sequencing and analytical tools to estimate both the time and place of origin for this unique and cryptic mammal,” said Dr. Kevin Olival, senior research scientist at EcoHealth Alliance and study co-author.

The first group came about 10,000 years ago and the second about 800 years ago, but still not much is known about this endangered species.

“I think the most important thing about them is that they eat insects so they will, and they’re fairly generalist, they’ll eat native insects and they’ll eat invasive insects,” said Corinna Pinzari, University of Hawaii at Hilo researcher. “So I think that they’re almost a form of biocontrol, or they could be if they had healthy populations.”

Researchers continue to look in to how we can conserve the bat’s populations, plus whether or not there’s unique groups on each island and whether or not they fly between the islands.Click here to view the report online.

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