1 Natural History Museum of Denmark, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 Department of Zoology and Animal Cell Biology. Faculty of Science and Technology, University of The Basque Country, UPV/EHU, Leioa, The Basque Country3 Natural History Museum of Denmark, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
The long-fingered bat Myotis capaccinii is a European trawling bat reported to feed on fish in several Mediterranean locations, but the ecological circumstances of this behavior have not yet been studied. To elucidate the importance of fishing in this bat's diet, we evaluated the frequency and seasonal variation of fish remains in 3,000 fecal pellets collected from M. capaccinii at a nursery roost in Dénia (Eastern Iberian Peninsula) in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Fish consumption occurred evenly throughout the year. All otoliths found in feces were identified as belonging to the surface-feeding fish Gambusia holbrooki. Measuring otoliths, we estimated that the mean size of consumed fish was significantly smaller than the mean measured for available fish, suggesting that the long-fingered bat's relatively small body may constrain its handling of larger prey. Of note, one bat had eaten 15 fish, showing that fish may be a locally or seasonally important trophic resource for this species. By capturing 15 bats and radio-tracking the four with the most fish remains in their droppings, we also identified fishing areas, including a single fishing ground comprising several ponds within a golf course. Ponds hold a high density of G. holbrooki, suggesting that the amount of fish at the water surface may be the principal factor triggering fishing. The observed six-fold increase in percentage of consumed fish across the study period may be related to recent pond-building in the area. We discuss whether this quick behavioral response is a novel feature of M. capaccinii or an intrinsic feature that has erupted and faded locally along the species' history.