Uptake of gamma-HCH (Lindane) by pipistrelle bats and its effect on survival

I. L. Boyd*, D. G. Myhill, A. J. Mitchell-Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adult pipistrelle bats were caught at two roosts in Eastern England and kept in captivity on an ad lib diet of mealworms. In Experiment 1, two groups of eight bats were each kept in identical outdoor enclosures where the bats could fly freely and where they had a choice of five roost boxes, one of which was heated. One of these groups was exposed to gamma-HCH applied to planed pine blocks which had been immersed in a hexane solution of gamma-HCH. An initial concentration, estimated from surface wood scrapings, of 9·94 ± 1·15 mg m-2 was used for the first 44 days, while 866 ± 51 mg g-2 was used for a further 44 days. Blocks were placed in the roost boxes to simulate the type of exposure experienced by wild bats. Blocks dosed with solvent alone were given to the other group of bats (controls). Six of the eight bats in the group exposed to gamma-HCH died, while all bats in the control group survived (P < 0·007). In Experiment 2, three groups of five bats were kept in identical cages. Two groups were exposed to identical wood blocks dosed with gamma-HCH, which gave a concentration of 211 mg m-2 in surface scrapings taken 1-2 h after dosing, while the other group received a wood block treated with solvent alone (control). All bats in the groups exposed to gamma-HCH died within 17 days, while all bats in the control group survived (P < 0·001). Tissues of bats were analysed for gamma-HCH by gas chromatography. There was a critical concentration of 622±102 μg gamma-HCH g-1 extractable lipid at which bats died. The total weight of gamma-HCH in bat carcasses was directly related to the weight of extractable lipid. On average, bats died when the gamma-HCH concentration in the whole body reached 27·9 ± 4·8 μg g-1, but this value increased as body weight increased. This study confirmed the results of a previous study that gamma-HCH is toxic to bats in conditions simulating exposure in the wild.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-111
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1988


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