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New study finds that common and widespread UK bat species are negatively affected by increased urbanisation

4 March 2016

A recent study, based on data collected by the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) suggests that even the most widespread and adaptable UK bat species, the common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), is negatively affected by increasing urbanised areas. The common and soprano pipistrelle were only identified as separate species in the 1990s but this research indicates that the soprano pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus) has very different habitat preferences within the urban settings.

The research was led by Paul Lintott (University of Exeter) who studied the two pipistrelle species using data from the NBMP, a long-running citizen science scheme (more about this project HERE). The scientists aimed to determine if these two similar species responded similarly to an urban landscape and how the latter affected their distribution.

Contrary to what is frequently assumed the two pipistrelle species had distinctive responses to their anthropogenic environment. The soprano pipistrelle was found to be more prevalent in areas with higher amounts of freshwater compared to the common pipistrelle. In fact, the latter appeared to actively avoid areas that soprano’s pipistrelle used for hunting. P. pipistrellus was actually more frequently recorded in urban landscapes containing a high proportion of green space and it showed a strong decline in areas of “gray space” (i.e. buildings and roads).

The authors, thus, demonstrate that even what is considered to be a very adaptable UK bat species – the common pipistrelle – can be negatively affected by urbanisation. They also emphasize that “increasing urbanization is likely to have a negative effect on both pipistrelle species” and highlight the need to implement “landscape-scale environmental improvement programs, such as the creation of effective urban green space schemes”.

 

Further information:

You can access the full article, free of charge, HERE.

Bat Conservation Trust is working closely with the Royal Horticultural Society and The Wildlife Trust on “Wild About Garden Week” to encourage more people to make their gardens more bat friendly

Gardening for bats http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/encouraging_bats.html

Bats and lighting http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/bats_and_lighting.html

Buildings, Planning and Development http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/bats_and_lighting.html

 

 

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) is the only national organisation solely devoted to the conservation of bats and their habitats in the UK. Its network of 100 local bat groups and more than 1,000 bat workers survey roosts and hibernation sites, and work with householders, builders, farmers and foresters to protect bats. www.bats.org.uk

All British bats are protected under British law, because of severe declines in bat numbers during the twentieth century. Loss of roosting habitat to development and construction, loss of foraging habitat as farming practice has changed (using pesticide and losing meadows and hedgerows)  and loss of hedgerows, waterways and commuting routes  linking the two all contributed to the declines in bat populations.

Because of widespread population declines and continued vulnerability, all British bat species are European protected species and afforded a high level of protection under both the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. Deliberately capturing, disturbing, injuring and killing bats is prohibited, as is damaging or destroying their breeding sites and roosts.

The Bat Helpline 0345 1300 228 is for anyone who needs help with bats If you find a grounded or injured bat, believes bats to be at risk or think you may have bats or want to let us know about a bat roost site please call the Bat Helpline 0345 1300 228

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