- Vespertilio bechsteinii Kuhl, 1817
Bechstein's Myotis, Bechstein's Myotis, Bechstein's Bat
IUCN: NT; Be (II); Bo (EUROBATS); EUHD (II); RDBUkr: Вразливі
Value of species
Monotypic form, without taxonomic complexities (Baagøe 2001).
A western Palaearctic species, Bechstein's Myotis (Myotis bechsteinii) occurs in central and southern Europe as well as temperate south-western Asia (Caucasus region and Asia Minor). It is found on several islands including Bornholm, Corsica, Elba, Capri, Sicily (Baagoe 2001). It has been recorded from sea level to 1,500 m in central Spain (Benzal and de Paz 1991). Although only a single record has been recorded in central Montenegro, it is possibly present in most of the country (Theou and Đurović 2015).
It is considered rare throughout its range, although in optimal habitat it may be regularly found, and it is a typical member of central European bat communities. In southern Europe and the Caucasus it is rare (K. Tsytsulina pers. comm. 2005), and there has been only one confirmed individual in Iran (Sharifi et al. 2000). There are also few records from Turkey, where it has been found in groups of up to six individuals in six localities (A. Karatash pers. comm. 2007). Breeding colonies are small, numbering up to 10-30 individuals (K. Tsytsulina, J. T. Alcalde, A. Hutson pers. comm. 2006). Populations are fragmented as a result of the loss in historic times of the majority of its forest habitat. There is very little information on recent population trends. However, one of the few colonies known from Spain has disappeared in recent years because of human disturbance (J. T. Alcalde and J. Juste pers. comm. 2006).
This species has specialized habitat requirements and is largely dependent on mature natural forests. In the south-west Asia region it is found in broadleaf forest and sometimes mixed forest (K. Tsytsulina pers. comm. 2005). In Europe, it tends to prefer mature deciduous woodland of beech and oak with a high proportion of old trees. Densities of this species are highest in forests that are managed according to environmental (rather than strictly economic) principles. It is occasionally found in artificial habitats such as pasture, plantations (especially orchards) and rural gardens. In summer it roosts in tree-holes, or occasionally in buildings; bird and bat boxes are fairly readily accepted (Schlapp 1999). In winter it hibernates in underground habitats, and possibly also in hollow trees. It forages in woodland and along woodland edge for Lepidoptera, Diptera, Planipennia, and also non-flying insects. It is considered to be a sedentary species (Hutterer et al. 2005).
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