20th April 2010
A new bat species has been added to Britain's native species in the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.
Researchers led by Prof. John Altringham and Prof. Roger Butlin have identified Myotis alcathoe or Alcathoe bat for the first time in the UK. Alcathoe bat is relatively new to science being first identified in 2001. It is thought that Alcathoe bat has been here in the UK for generations and has only recently been identified due to its similaritly to 2 other native bat species; whiskered and Brandt's bats. This new discovery takes the total number of bat species in the UK to 17, making up around a third of all our mammal species.
Alcathoe bat is not the first new bat species to have been identified in the UK. In 1997 one of Britain's most widespread bat species, the pipistrelle, was found to be 2 seperate species. These new discoveries illustrate how much there is yet to learn about bats and with UK bat populations under threat it is vital to increase our knowledge about bats to inform conservation efforts.
Julia Hanmer, Chief Executive Bat Conservation Trust explains:
"It is incredibly exciting to learn more about bats every year. These fascinating animals live alongside us, often roosting in buildings and feeding in our parks and gardens, but there is still much more to learn about these mysterious and beautiful creatures. This summer thousands of volunteers will be watching the skies and listening to bats for the National Bat Monitoring Programme which tells us how bat populations are faring. Who knows what other discoveries are waiting to be made. With another species to add to our books the Bat Conservation Trust will be looking for new recruits to count bats and help us learn more about our vulnerable bat populations. Anyone wishing to take part can find details at www.bats.org.uk/nbmp and new volunteers will be trained on becoming a bat detective"
Photo courtesy of Cyril Schönbächler