Conserving grey long-eared bats across our landscape: A Conservation Management Plan
The grey long-eared bat is one of the rarest bats in the UK, with a population estimated at 1,000 individuals and a distribution that is restricted mainly to the southern coast of England and Wales.
Dr Orly Razgour's Conservation Management Plan outlines how the UK population is of high conservation concern because it appears to be declining and fragmented, and several maternity colonies have been lost in the past few decades.
The decline of the grey long-eared bat in the UK is closely linked to the disappearance of lowland unimproved grasslands (meadows) its main foraging habitat. As such the grey long-eared bat is a good flagship species for the conservation of this threatened habitat.
Need to protect roosts, foraging habitat and the landscape that links them.
Conservation action must encompass grey long-eared bat roosts, which are often under threat from development, foraging habitats within 5 km around roosts, and landscape connectivity between roosts. Grey long-eared bats tend to live in close proximity to human settlements and roost in man-made buildings, especially old, solid stone or brick buildings with large roof spaces. They forage in a combination of meadows, marshes, woody riparian vegetation and edge of broadleaf woodlands.
Encouraging these bats in the farmed landscape may benefit the wider farming community because they can provide ecosystem services in the form of consumption of agricultural pests.They forage in a combination of meadows, marshes, woody riparian vegetation and along the edge of broadleaf woodlands.
Main management recommendations:
- Allocate the grey long-eared bat "priority species status" to assure the full protection of all maternity colonies and their surrounding foraging habitats
- Implement mandatory molecular species identification of droppings collected from all long-eared roosts within the species’ distribution that are pending development or bat exclusion.
- Identify and monitor maternity roosts and hibernation sites
- Manage the landscape around and between roosts to increase the availability of suitable foraging habitats and habitat connectivity.
- The management plan also includes mitigation recommendations for development and disturbance to roosts.
This research was jointly supported by Bristol University and BCT.