From: USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station
Published October 24, 2017 04:51 PM

'Wing Prints' May Identify Individual Bats as Effectively as Fingerprints Identify People

Research by a USDA Forest Service scientist and her partners may solve a longtime problem in bat research by demonstrating that bats’ wings are as reliable a method of identifying individual bats as fingerprints are for human beings.

The ability to recognize individual animals is key to wildlife research, but finding a reliable technique that does not imperil a bat or change its behavior has confounded bat researchers for decades. In a study published in the Journal of Mammalogy, Forest Service scientist Sybill Amelon and University of Missouri researchers Sarah Hooper and Kathryn Womack evaluated the use of patterns that are visible in bat wings as a method of identifying individual bats. If widely applied, this technique would be an easily employable identification system for bats that does not require adding markers to the animal that could negatively affect it.

The study, “Bat wing biometrics: using collagen–elastin bundles in bat wings as a unique individual identifier,” is available at: https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/54707.  

Read more at USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station

Image: This photograph of a bat's left wing illustrates wing structure and shows the collagen fibers that Forest Service scientist Sybill Amelon and her colleagues believe may be the key to identifying individual bats. (Credit: The image was used as Figure 1 in their study, 'Bat wing biometrics: using collagen-elastin bundles in bat wings as a unique individual identifier.')

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