The iBatsUK project started out in 2005 as The Bats & Roadside Mammals Survey (BRM), a partnership project between the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) and the Mammals Trust UK (MTUK). In 2008 the BRM project was fully integrated into the Indicator Bats Program (iBats). BCT was a partner on this project up to March 2011.
The main aims of the project were:
- to increase the number of records of mammals (primarily bats) along roads
- to determine which roadside habitats are important for bats
- to provide long-term monitoring at the national and regional level
The iBatsUK survey involved volunteers driving up to 40 km of roads per night using ultrasonic time expansion detectors attached to a car window to record bats. A GPS unit allowed geo-referencing of all records. Data collected complemented existing National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) projects.
In addition, research to identify roadside habitats that are preferred/avoided by mammals will lead to future improvements of roadside habitats that will enhance mammal biodiversity. At the end of each season all records obtained on the survey were uploaded to the National Biodiversity Network and used in the iBats project to assess the impact of global change on biodiversity.
In May 2006 the first iBats project was set up in Romania and Bulgaria with funding from The Darwin Initiative (with additional funding from The Rufford Foundation and Bat Conservation International). The project formed partnerships with organisations in Romania and Bulgaria to establish national monitoring programs. Due to its huge success, the project was awarded follow-on funding from Darwin in 2009 to extend its scope into Hungary, Ukraine and Russia. The project continued to spread worldwide, with pilot projects set-up in Thailand, Mongolia, Madagascar, Mexico, the USA and Zambia thanks to additional funding from the Zoological Society of London, the EDGE Programme, British Ecological Society and the Black Rock Forest Agency New York .
Romania: The Romanian Bat Protection Association
Bulgaria: The Green Balkans, The Nature Park Roussenski Lom, The Institute of Zoology Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, The Bulgarian Bat Research and Protection Group
Hungary: Nature Foundation
Ukraine: Animals Research and Protection Association