Mehely's Horseshoe Bat
IUCN: VU; Be (II); Bo (EUROBATS); EUHD (II)
Value of species
IUCN: Vulnerable A4c
Rhinolophus mehelyi is largely restricted to the Mediterranean. It has a discontinuous distribution from north Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt) and southern Europe (southern Portugal and Spain, possibly one occurrence in France, a few places in Italy and the Balkans) through Asia Minor, Anatolia, to Transcaucasia, Iran and Afghanistan (where its exact roost location is not known: Srinivasulu et al. in press).
A single male specimen was recently found by Dondini et al. 2014 in Apulia, Italy, where this bat has not been recorded since 1960. This species has also been recorded for the first time in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq by Al-Sheikhly et al. 2015 within a mountain cave used as a breeding site.
It is patchily distributed in some large and vulnerable colonies. It occurs up to 2,000 m Asl in High and Saharan Atlas mountains, although it is typically found at lower altitudes in other parts of its range (e.g. in Spain it tends to occur below 700 m).
An infrequent species, which is reported to have declined in all parts of its range for which data are available. In Andalucia (Spain), the rate of decline has been estimated at 10% over the last ten years. The species is close to extinction in France (Rodrigues and Palmeirim 1999), Romania (Botnariuc and Tatole 2005), and north-east Spain (J. Juste and J. T. Alcalde pers. comm. 2006). In France, only one individual was recorded in 2004 (S. Aulagnier pers. comm. 2006), and in Romania the population was estimated at 5,000 in the 1950s, but now numbers approximately 100 (Dumitrescu et al. 1962-1963, Botnariuc and Tatole 2005). It is also declining in southern Spain (Franco and Rodrigues 2001), Portugal (Rodrigues et al. 2003), the Russian Federation (K. Tsytsulina pers. comm. 2005), Georgia, and Morocco (SW Asia Workshop 2005). In Iran mixed-species colonies including R. mehelyi, which in the 1970s were estimated to be over 10,000 individuals, now only number a few hundred individuals (M. Sharifi pers. obs. 2005). Summer nursery colonies typically number 30-500 individuals (although colonies of up to 3,000 individuals have been recorded, separated in smaller groups within the same cave). Winter clusters consist of up to 5,000 animals.
Mehely's Horsehoe Bat (Rhinolophus mehelyi) forages in Mediterranean shrubland and woodland, in dry steppes and particularly link to water bodies (Salsamendi et al. 2012). It feeds mainly on moths, but can also prey on other insects. Summer roosts are in warm caves, often in karstic regions. Winter hibernacula are in colder underground sites (usually large caves with a constant microclimate). The species roosts mainly in caves and abandoned mines and does not use artificial habitats (but there is a single report of animals using an abandoned building in Bulgaria (Benda et al. 2003)). This bat is sedentary (longest distance recorded 90 km: Palmeirim and Rodrigues 1992).