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The National Bat Monitoring Programme: Citizen science reveals trends in bat populations

10 December 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) volunteers from across the UK have spent over 42,000 evenings monitoring bat populations as part of the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) which is the longest running (since 1996), purpose-built, multi-species monitoring programme for mammals in the UK.  The efforts of these Citizen Scientists have provided experts with essential data to build up a picture of bat species populations and the results do look promising for some bat species. This information is now detailed in a new scientific paper published today.

Bats account for almost a third of all mammal species in the UK and occupy a wide range of habitats, such as wetlands, woodlands, farmland, as well as urban areas. They can tell us a lot about the state of the environment, as they are top predators of nocturnal insects and are sensitive to changes. The long term monitoring of bats is essential for assessing how they are doing in the face of a variety of pressures, as well as in response to conservation measures put in place to tackle these issues. Any member of the public can help to gather information that can be used for the ongoing monitoring of UK bat species by getting in touch with us: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/nbmp.html

Dr Kate Barlow, lead author of the study and Head of Monitoring at BCT, explains ‘At Bat Conservation Trust we have been working with our volunteers who collect data on how UK bats are faring right across the country. We are delighted to be able to show that their hard work and dedication allows us to produce a convincing and generally positive picture for the populations of some of our more widespread bat species. This is however only the start of recovery for some of these species and there is still a long way to go. There are also some species, particularly those that rely on woodland habitats, for example the Bechstein’s bat, that we don’t know so much about, so we have a lot more work to do! We are now focusing on what drives these changes. Is it as a result of legal protection and increased conservation action for bats or are there other factors such as changes in climate and habitat that are also important? By understanding this better we can focus our attention where it is most needed.’

Anna Robinson, Monitoring Ecologist at the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), writes ‘JNCC highly values the work of the Bat Conservation Trust and their network of enthusiastic, dedicated volunteer recorders. The newly published paper on the NBMP survey methods and results is encouraging as it confirms the scientific rigour of the approach, giving us more confidence in the findings.’

The full paper can be read here:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320714004479

The UK Biodiversity Indicators can be found here:

http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-4271

Media queries to Joe Nunez on 020 7820 7168, jnunez-mino@bats.org.uk

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