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Van der Meij T.,Statistics Netherlands CBS | Van Strien A.J.,Statistics Netherlands CBS | Haysom K.A.,Bat Conservation Trust | Dekker J.,Dutch Mammal Society | And 16 more authors.
Mammalian Biology | Year: 2015

Monitoring data on hibernating bats were aggregated for the first time across a number of European countries. These supranational trends revealed that nine out of 16 bat species examined increased at their hibernation sites in Europe between 1993 and 2011, while only one is decreasing. This is reflected in the positive trend shown by a prototype multispecies bat indicator which combined the individual species trends. Our findings suggest that after a period of strong decline in the 20th century, populations of most of the investigated bat species are stabilising or recovering, although with profound differences between European bio-geographical regions and countries. Bat populations in the Continental region have a less positive tendency, compared to those in the Atlantic region. More data from more countries may reveal whether these differences are systematical. So far, the prototype indicator covers 9 countries and 16 of the 45 bat species found in Europe. The next steps will be to refine the methodology behind the indicator and to improve the indicator's representation of European bat populations and its capacity to compare trends among biogeographic regions. This should be achieved by participation of more countries and incorporating data from additional bat species, including data collected by other surveillance methods, such as summer roost counts. Robust information on trends in bat populations at a range of geographic scales is essential to the long-term conservation of bats. Further development of this indicator will make an important contribution to conservation of bats because it will stimulate international cooperation and capacity building for monitoring and research, thus exchanging and broadening knowledge of the status of bats and improving the identification of threats. © 2014 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde.


Frick W.F.,University of California at Santa Cruz | Puechmaille S.J.,University of Greifswald | Puechmaille S.J.,University College Dublin | Hoyt J.R.,University of California at Santa Cruz | And 17 more authors.
Global Ecology and Biogeography | Year: 2015

We investigated the effects of disease on the local abundances and distributions of species at continental scales by examining the impacts of white-nose syndrome, an infectious disease of hibernating bats, which has recently emerged in North America. Location: North America and Europe. Methods: We used four decades of population counts from 1108 populations to compare the local abundances of bats in North America before and after the emergence of white-nose syndrome to the situation in Europe, where the disease is endemic. We also examined the probability of local extinction for six species of hibernating bats in eastern North America and assessed the influence of winter colony size prior to the emergence of white-nose syndrome on the risk of local extinction. Results: White-nose syndrome has caused a 10-fold decrease in the abundance of bats at hibernacula in North America, eliminating large differences in species abundance patterns that existed between Europe and North America prior to disease emergence. White-nose syndrome has also caused extensive local extinctions (up to 69% of sites in a single species). For five out of six species, the risk of local extinction was lower in larger winter populations, as expected from theory, but for the most affected species, the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), extinction risk was constant across winter colony sizes, demonstrating that disease can sometimes eliminate numerical rarity as the dominant driver of extinction risk by driving both small and large populations extinct. Main conclusions: Species interactions, including disease, play an underappreciated role in macroecological patterns and influence broad patterns of species abundance, occurrence and extinction. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Barlow A.M.,Starcross Center | Barlow A.M.,Somerset House | Barlow A.M.,University of Bristol | Worledge L.,Bat Conservation Trust | And 9 more authors.
Veterinary Record | Year: 2015

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fatal fungal infection of bats in North America caused by Pseudogymnoascus destructans. P. destructans has been confirmed in Continental Europe but not associated with mass mortality. Its presence in Great Britain was unknown. Opportunistic sampling of bats in GB began during the winter of 2009. Any dead bats or samples from live bats with visible fungal growths were submitted to the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency for culture. Active surveillance by targeted environmental sampling of hibernacula was carried out during the winter of 2012/2013. Six hibernacula were selected by their proximity to Continental Europe. Five samples, a combination of surface swabs or sediment samples, were collected. These were sent to the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics, Northern Arizona University, for P. destructans PCR. Fortyeight incidents were investigated between March 2009 and July 2013. They consisted of 46 bat carcases and 31 other samples. A suspected P. destructans isolate was cultured from a live Daubenton's bat (Myotis daubentonii) sampled in February 2013. This isolate was confirmed by the Mycology Reference Laboratory, Bristol (Public Health England), as P. destructans. A variety of fungi were isolated from the rest but all were considered to be saprophytic or incidental. P. destructans was also confirmed by the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics in five of the six sites surveyed.


Boughey K.L.,University of East Anglia | Lake I.R.,University of East Anglia | Haysom K.A.,Bat Conservation Trust | Dolman P.M.,University of East Anglia
Biological Conservation | Year: 2011

Within agricultural landscapes, linear features such as hedgerows and tree-lines provide valuable habitat for many species. We use data from 315 transects, completed as part of a national acoustic survey of bat distribution, to examine the incidence of four bat species adjacent to linear features in rural areas. The use of linear features was assessed in relation to hedgerow width, tree density, the presence of water and woodland proximity. To examine the effect of tree density, linear features were classified as either hedgerows without trees, hedgerows with sparse trees (comprising <50% tree canopy) or tree-lines (>50% tree canopy). The use of linear features by Pipistrellus pipstrellus was not affected by tree density; linear features of all types were associated with a similar increase in P. pipistrellus incidence. The use of linear features by Pipistrellus pygmaeus was dependent on both tree density and the proximity of woodland; only linear features containing trees provided an increase in P. pygmaeus incidence regardless of woodland proximity. P. pipistrellus and P. pygmaeus incidence was not affected by hedgerow width or the presence of water. Incidence of Nyctalus noctula and Eptesicus serotinus was unaffected by the density of linear features of any type. Many agri-environment schemes offer financial incentives for the creation and management of hedgerows. Optimising the biodiversity gain provided by linear features will maximise the effectiveness of these schemes. Agri-environment measures that encourage the provision and retention of hedgerow trees will benefit bats in agricultural landscapes. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Boughey K.L.,University of East Anglia | Lake I.R.,University of East Anglia | Haysom K.A.,Bat Conservation Trust | Dolman P.M.,University of East Anglia
Biological Conservation | Year: 2011

Although forest fragmentation can greatly affect biodiversity, responses to landscape-scale measures of woodland configuration in Europe have been examined for only a limited range of taxa. Almost all European bat species utilise woodland, however little is known about how they are affected by the spatial arrangement of woodland patches. Here we quantify landscape structure surrounding 1129 roosts of six bat species and a corresponding number of control locations across the UK, to examine associations between roost location and landscape composition, woodland proximity and the size of the nearest broadleaved woodland patch. Analyses are performed at two spatial scales: within 1. km of the roost and within a radius equivalent to the colony home-range (3-7. km). For four species, models at the 1. km scale were better able to predict roost occurrence than those at the home-range scale, although this difference was only significant for Pipistrellus pipistrellus. For all species roost location was positively associated with either the extent or proximity of broadleaved woodland, with the greatest effect of increasing woodland extent seen between 0% and 20% woodland cover. P. pipistrellus, Pipistrellus pygmaeus, Rhinolophus hipposideros, Eptesicus serotinus and Myotis nattereri all selected roosts closer to broadleaved woodland than expected by chance, with 90% of roosts located within 440. m of broadleaved woodland. Roost location was not affected by the size of the nearest broadleaved patch (patches ranged from 0.06-2798. ha. ±. 126. SD). These findings suggest that the bat species assessed here will benefit from the creation of an extensive network of woodland patches, including small patches, in landscapes with little existing woodland cover. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Barlow K.E.,Bat Conservation Trust | Briggs P.A.,Bat Conservation Trust | Haysom K.A.,Bat Conservation Trust | Hutson A.M.,Bat Conservation Trust | And 6 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2015

Bats play an important role in ecosystems and are highly relevant as indicators of environmental change. Long-term monitoring of bat populations is therefore fundamental to verifying environmental change over time. Although in the past, significant declines in bat populations have been reported across Europe, only limited data are available from systematic monitoring schemes over long periods. In this study we use data from the National Bat Monitoring Programme, a citizen science scheme drawing on over 3500 volunteers, to estimate changes in populations across Great Britain for 10 bat species or species groups between 1997 and 2012. We demonstrate uniquely how data collected on relative abundance and activity of bats by volunteers at 3272 sites using standardised, multiple survey methods (counts at roosts and bat detector surveys using tuneable, heterodyne detectors) can be successfully utilised to produce statistically robust population indices for a large proportion of a country's bat fauna. All trends calculated, with the exception of one species (. Rhinolophus ferrumequinum), had sufficient power to detect Red Alert level declines. Our results reveal a generally favourable picture for bats over the monitoring period; all species showed a stable or increasing trend from at least one survey type, although for four species where there were multiple trends from different survey types, the trend directions did not agree (. Myotis nattereri, Pipistrellus pipistrellus, Pipistrellus pygmaeus and Eptesicus serotinus). This study demonstrates that use of volunteer programmes can be successful in monitoring bat populations, provided that key features including standardised survey methods and volunteer training are incorporated. Some species that are more difficult to detect and identify may however require specialist surveillance techniques. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Roche N.,Bat Conservation Ireland | Langton S.,Steve Langton Statistical Consultancy | Aughney T.,Bat Conservation Ireland | Russ J.M.,Bat Conservation Trust | And 3 more authors.
Animal Conservation | Year: 2011

A robust and cost-efficient method for monitoring some of Ireland's more common bat species was devised in 2003 and has been carried out yearly since then. The objective of the scheme is to provide information on bat population trends and distributions in Ireland. Night-time surveys are conducted in July and August, whereby bat vocalizations are recorded from a time expansion bat detector to a minidisc while driving a known route by car at a constant driving speed. Bat vocalizations are subsequently analysed using sound analysis software. In Ireland, the roadside populations of three target species, the common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle and Leisler's bat, can be monitored effectively using this car-based method of survey. Power statistics indicate that a decline of high conservation priority of the least frequently encountered species of the three, Leisler's bat, could be detected within 12years of monitoring if 25, 30 × 30km survey squares, each with fifteen 1.6km transects, are surveyed twice annually. The scheme has revealed new data on the relative bat activity distributions across the island of Ireland. Common pipistrelles are more frequent in the south of the country and Leisler's bats are more frequent in the south and east. Analysis of yearly count data indicated an initially increasing trend in the common pipistrelle and Leisler's bat for the first 4years of the survey, followed by more recent declines. Ireland has a relatively depauperate bat fauna; hence, a potentially greater number of microchiropteran species could be monitored in other regions using this method. The protocol is easily repeatable and does not have to be carried out by bat specialists. In Ireland, it takes c. 300h of volunteer time annually to carry out this statistically robust monitoring scheme for all three bat species. © 2011 The Authors. Animal Conservation © 2011 The Zoological Society of London.


Razgour O.,University of Bristol | Clare E.L.,University of Bristol | Zeale M.R.K.,University of Bristol | Hanmer J.,Bat Conservation Trust | And 4 more authors.
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2011

Sympatric cryptic species, characterized by low morphological differentiation, pose a challenge to understanding the role of interspecific competition in structuring ecological communities.We used traditional (morphological) and novel molecular methods of diet analysis to study the diet of two cryptic bat species that are sympatric in southern England (Plecotus austriacus and P. auritus) (Fig. 1). Using Roche FLX 454 (Roche, Basel, CH) high-throughput sequencing (HTS) and uniquely tagged generic arthropod primers, we identified 142 prey Molecular Operational Taxonomic Units (MOTUs) in the diet of the cryptic bats, 60% of which were assigned to a likely species or genus. The findings from the molecular study supported the results of microscopic analyses in showing that the diets of both species were dominated by lepidopterans. However, HTS provided a sufficiently high resolution of prey identification to determine fine-scale differences in resource use. Although both bat species appeared to have a generalist diet, eared-moths from the family Noctuidae were the main prey consumed. Interspecific niche overlap was greater than expected by chance (Ojk =0.72, P <0.001) due to overlap in the consumption of the more common prey species. Yet, habitat associations of nongeneralist prey species found in the diets corresponded to those of their respective bat predator (grasslands for P. austriacus, and woodland for P. auritus). Overlap in common dietary resource use combined with differential specialist prey habitat associations suggests that habitat partitioning is the primary mechanism of coexistence. The performance of HTS is discussed in relation to previous methods of molecular and morphological diet analysis. By enabling species-level identification of dietary components, the application of DNA sequencing to diet analysis allows a more comprehensive comparison of the diet of sympatric cryptic species, and therefore can be an important tool for determining fine-scale mechanisms of coexistence.© 2011 the authors.


Razgour O.,University of Bristol | Hanmer J.,Bat Conservation Trust | Jones G.,University of Bristol
Biological Conservation | Year: 2011

Although spatial scale is important for understanding ecological processes and guiding conservation planning, studies combining a range of scales are rare. Habitat suitability modelling has been used traditionally to study broad-scale patterns of species distribution but can also be applied to address conservation needs at finer scales. We studied the ability of presence-only species distribution modelling to predict patterns of habitat selection at broad and fine spatial scales for one of the rarest mammals in the UK, the grey long-eared bat (Plecotus austriacus). Models were constructed with Maxent using broad-scale distribution data from across the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) and fine-scale radio-tracking data from bats at one colony. Fine-scale model predictions were evaluated with radio-tracking locations from bats from a distant colony, and compared with results of traditional radio-tracking data analysis methods (compositional analysis of habitat selection). Broad-scale models indicated that winter temperature, summer precipitation and land cover were the most important variables limiting the distribution of the grey long-eared bat in the UK. Fine-scale models predicted that proximity to unimproved grasslands and distance to suburban areas determine foraging habitat suitability around maternity colonies, while compositional analysis also identified unimproved grasslands as the most preferred foraging habitat type. This strong association with unimproved lowland grasslands highlights the potential importance of changes in agricultural practices in the past century for wildlife conservation. Hence, multi-scale models offer an important tool for identifying conservation requirements at the fine landscape level that can guide national-level conservation management practices. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Barlow K.E.,Bat Conservation Trust | Briggs P.A.,Bat Conservation Trust | Haysom K.A.,Bat Conservation Trust | Hutson A.M.,Bat Conservation Trust | And 4 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2015

Bats play an important role in ecosystems and are highly relevant as indicators of environmental change. Long-term monitoring of bat populations is therefore fundamental to verifying environmental change over time. Although in the past, significant declines in bat populations have been reported across Europe, only limited data are available from systematic monitoring schemes over long periods. In this study we use data from the National Bat Monitoring Programme, a citizen science scheme drawing on over 3500 volunteers, to estimate changes in populations across Great Britain for 10 bat species or species groups between 1997 and 2012. We demonstrate uniquely how data collected on relative abundance and activity of bats by volunteers at 3272 sites using standardised, multiple survey methods (counts at roosts and bat detector surveys using tuneable, heterodyne detectors) can be successfully utilised to produce statistically robust population indices for a large proportion of a country's bat fauna. All trends calculated, with the exception of one species (. Rhinolophus ferrumequinum), had sufficient power to detect Red Alert level declines. Our results reveal a generally favourable picture for bats over the monitoring period; all species showed a stable or increasing trend from at least one survey type, although for four species where there were multiple trends from different survey types, the trend directions did not agree (. Myotis nattereri, Pipistrellus pipistrellus, Pipistrellus pygmaeus and Eptesicus serotinus). This study demonstrates that use of volunteer programmes can be successful in monitoring bat populations, provided that key features including standardised survey methods and volunteer training are incorporated. Some species that are more difficult to detect and identify may however require specialist surveillance techniques. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

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