Barbastella barbastellus – Barbastelle – barbastela or murciélago de bosque is a medium-sized bat found in forests and wooded areas throughout Europe and parts of Asia. In Spain, this species is commonly known as “murciélago de bosque”. It is listed as “Vulnerable” in the Spanish Catalogue of Endangered Species.
These bats play an important role in their ecosystem as insectivores, helping to control populations of insects such as moths and beetles. However, their habitat is threatened by deforestation and forest fragmentation, making conservation efforts crucial to the survival of the species in Spain. The Barbastelle is protected under national law in Spain, highlighting the country’s commitment to conserving its biodiversity.
(Top image by Adriá López Baucells https://www.adriabaucells.com/)
The Barbastelle, also known as Barbastella barbastellus or the forest bat, is a medium-sized bat with distinctive physical characteristics. They have a wingspan of around 25-29 centimeters (10-11 inches) and weigh between 5-12 grams (0.2-0.4 ounces). Barbastelles have dark brown fur, which is longer on the back and paler on the belly. They have a flattened face, short ears, and a distinctive nose-leaf that helps with echolocation.
Habitat and Behavior
Barbastelles are found in forests and wooded areas throughout Europe and parts of Asia. They are slow fliers and are known for their ability to maneuver through dense vegetation. Barbastelles are nocturnal and roost in small groups in tree cavities, cracks in rocks, and buildings during the day. They are not migratory and typically remain in one area throughout the year.
Barbastelles are insectivores, feeding on a variety of prey including moths, beetles, and flies. They use echolocation to locate their prey, emitting high-pitched calls that bounce off objects and provide them with information about their surroundings.
Female Barbastelles typically give birth to a single offspring each year, after a gestation period of around 60 days. The young are born blind and hairless and are nursed for several weeks before they are able to fly and hunt on their own.
The Barbastelle is classified as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation due to forest management practices and urbanization. Additionally, the use of pesticides and other chemicals can impact their insect prey, reducing the availability of food.
Barbastella barbastellus – Barbastelle – barbastela or murciélago de bosque – Status in Spain
In Spain, the Barbastelle is protected under national law and is listed as “Vulnerable” in the Spanish Catalogue of Endangered Species. They are found throughout the country, particularly in mountainous areas and forests. However, they are threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation and the fragmentation of forests.
Bat monitoring involves the observation and recording of bat populations in order to better understand their behavior, distribution, and population trends. This can be done through various methods, such as visual surveys, acoustic monitoring, and mist netting. Acoustic monitoring, in particular, is a commonly used technique that involves recording the echolocation calls of bats to identify species and estimate population numbers. Bat monitoring is important for conservation efforts, as it allows researchers to assess the health and status of bat populations, identify threats to their survival, and develop strategies for their protection.
Check out the fantastic website and get involved with Bat Monitoring: https://www.ratpenats.org/en/species/barbastella-barbastellus/ This initiative includes 4 different protocols: the ChiroRivers, the ChiroHabitats, the ChiroBoxes and the ChiroRoosts. Each one of them has been specifically designed for monitoring a certain group of bat species, either forest-dwelling, cave-dwelling or urban-dwelling species. The combination of all 4 monitoring programmes provides a complete image of the health status of all bat species populations.
If you find a bat at home, in a cave, church or grounded, or you identify it through your acoustic detectors, do not hesitate to send the record! https://www.ratpenats.org/en/sightings/
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