Lone male bat rewrites the record books

Sep 21, 2009
Lone male bat rewrites the record books
Two Bechstein's bats (Myotis bechsteinii) on moss. Photo by © Hugh Clark/Bat Conservation Trust

(PhysOrg.com) -- One of the rarest bats in the UK - the Bechstein's bat (Myotis bechsteinii) - has been found at its most westerly site ever recorded in the UK by a PhD student at the University of Bristol.

Discovered on National Trust land at the Colby estate in south west Wales, the lone male bat was found more than 60 miles west of the nearest recorded site in the Brecon Beacons.

The bat was captured by Matt Zeale from the University’s School of Biological Sciences while researching another rare bat, the barbastelle, which has also been recorded on this site for the first time. This research is being carried out in partnership with the Countryside Council for Wales.

A Bechstein's bat will often prove elusive as it has a quiet echolocation call that can easily be missed using the usual methods of surveying with a bat detector. The bat was caught using an Autobat which emits social calls, designed to attract to a ‘harp trap’, from which they can be taken for identification and then released unharmed.

Normally resident in southern England more information on these rarest of bats has only recently come to light and very little was known about their distribution. There are thought to be around 1,500 individuals in the UK.

Dr. David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation at the National Trust, said: “We can only speculate where this male Bechstein’s bat might have come from. He either made an incredible journey from the of Dean or Herefordshire or more likely there are other roosting sites waiting to be discovered in Pembrokeshire.”

Bechstein’s bats normally live in ancient woodlands. During the summer they roost in tree holes and in the winter they hibernate in tree holes, cellars and tunnels. The bat normally feeds on invertebrates such as spiders and also day-flying insects that are resting on branches and leaves.

The National Trust’s Colby estate in south Pembrokeshire is a beautiful wooded valley that runs inland from the coast.

Matt Zeale, the research student at the University of Bristol who found the bat during his survey work, said: “Coming across this lone male Bechstein’s bat was a real surprise. The woodland at Colby is the right habitat for this rare bat but it’s remarkable to find it so far west of its previously recorded site.”

Provided by University of Bristol (news : web)

Explore further: Study shows starving mantis females attract more males

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Some bat numbers up in Britain

Dec 31, 2006

At least four species of bats in Britain have reversed decades of declining populations and have grown in numbers recently.

Remarkable journeys may save bat species

Jul 12, 2007

Researchers have new hope for the future of an endangered species of bat after two of the flying mammals traveled 110 miles to a Welsh cave to live.

How to avoid a bat

Dec 18, 2006

Current understanding of the co-evolution of bats and moths has been thrown into question following new research reported today in Current Biology.

Bats More than Just Another Pretty Face

Oct 30, 2006

Most people view bats as disagreeable things that go bump in the night, but there is much more to these small, winged mammals. Earthwatch volunteers from around the world are traveling to Malaysia to explore ...

Recommended for you

Study shows starving mantis females attract more males

16 hours ago

A study done by Katherine Barry an evolutionary biologist with Macquarie University in Australia has led to the discovery that a certain species of female mantis attracts more males when starving, then do ...

African swine fever threatens Europe

17 hours ago

African swine fever, or ASF, is a viral disease that kills almost every pig it infects and is likened to Ebola. It gained a foothold in Georgia in 2007, when contaminated pig meat landed from a ship from ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.