News | Latest News | Bats and squirrels making the headlines

30th March 2018

We would like to draw your attention to three recent publications one featuring the lesser horseshoe bat and two concerned with research on the red squirrel.

Our colleague Hilary Macmillan was invited to share her encounters with the lesser horseshoe bat in an essay for The Clearing, which is an online journal published by Little Toller Books. The Clearing offers writers and artists a dedicated space in which to explore and celebrate the landscapes we live in. Contributors are encouraged to find distinctive visions that startle us, rural or urban, modern or prehistoric, industrial, post-industrial, fantastical, natural and political.

A research paper by Emma Sheehy, Chris Sutherland, Catherine O’Reilly and Xavier Lambin provides further information on the impact the recovery of the pine marten is having on both the red and grey squirrel populations in Scotland. In their interestingly titled paper ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’, evidence is provided to show that the non-native grey squirrel is strongly negatively affected by exposure to the pine marten, whereas the opposite is true for the native red squirrel.

Denise O’Meara and her co-authors, in a paper titled ‘Retracing the history and planning the future of the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) in Ireland using non-invasive genetics’, have revealed that the Irish red squirrel population is quite genetically diverse at a national level, but less so at a local scale. Their research supports existing evidence that the red squirrel was introduced into Ireland several times, following its extinction in the seventeenth century. This new study, however, reveals that Irish red squirrels today contain DNA that is now extinct or hasn’t been recorded in contemporary Great Britain, thus adding an international dimension to the conservation requirements of this species in Ireland.