- Vespertilio blythii Tomes, 1857
Lesser Mouse-eared Myotis, Lesser Mouse-eared Bat
Be (II); Bo (EUROBATS); EUHD (II); RDBUkr: Вразливі
Value of species
Myotis blythii omari Thomas, 1906
Myotis blythii oxygnathus (Monticelli, 1885)
Based on analyses of sequence data of mitochondrial genes, Castella et al. (2000) and Ruedi and Mayer (2002), Simmons in Wilson and Reeder (2005) treated myotis, blythii, oxygnathus and punicus as separate species, an arrangement used also by Spitzenberger (2002). However, a recent molecular revision indicates that only M. myotis and M. blythii should actually considered as valid taxa, being the forms oxygnathus, omari, risorius and lesviacus corresponding to local morphological variation without taxonomic value (Fulman et al. 2014).
A south-west Palearctic species, it occurs in southern Europe, southern parts of central Europe, and non-arid parts of southwestern Asia from Asia Minor, the Caucasus region, Palestine and northern Jordan to Kashmir, the Altai mountains, Nepal, and parts of China. The former subspecies M. b. oxygnathus occurs in Mediterranean Europe and western Anatolia: Portugal, Spain, France, Italy (including Sicily), Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine (including Krym), the Balkan Peninsula and parts of Turkey (Topál and Ruedi 2001). In the Caucasus, Turkey, Iran, the Russian Federation and Georgia it is confirmed to occur no higher than 1,700 m asl (K. Tsytsulina, M. Sharifi and A. Karatash pers. comm. 2005). However, it is found at altitudes of up to 2,100 m asl in the winter in southern Spain (Palomo and Gisbert 2002).
A gregarious species, it congregates in nursery and/or hibernating colonies of up to 500 individuals. There have been large population reductions since the 1950s in several areas, including central Europe, Israel, and central Asia, and there is evidence of ongoing decline in some parts of the range, although in other areas populations appear stable. In parts of its range it remains an abundant species. In Turkey it occurs in large clusters and is the second most common bat species (A. Karatash pers. comm. 2007). In Iran there is evidence of population decline, although it remains one of the most sighted species (M. Sharifi pers. comm. 2005). The Spanish population is estimated to be smaller than 20,000 individuals, and is concentrated in the southern part of the country (Palomo and Gisbert 2002). It is declining, at a rate of one third over the last 10 years in important large colonies in Andalucia (Franco and Rodrigues de los Santos 2001). It is one of the rarest species in Portugal, where its population of c.2,000 individuals is declining (Rodrigues et al. 2003). It is uncommon in the northern part of the range (Austria) but seems stable (Spitzenberger 2002). In France, the population of over 20,000 individuals experienced declines since the 1960s, but may now be stable (S. Aulagnier pers. comm. 2006). In the Balkans, it is regarded as stable (Mediterranean workshop 2007). In Romania, one well-known colony has declined by 95% as a result of disturbance by speleological tourism (Z. Nagy pers. comm. 2006).
In South Asia the population is considered stable (Molur et al. 2002).
It often occurs in mixed colonies with Myotis myotis and identification is sometimes problematic.
It forages in scrub and grassland habitats, including farmland and gardens. Maternity colonies are usually found in underground habitats such as caves and mines, and sometimes in attics of buildings (particularly in central Europe). In Iberia and in the Balkans it is mainly found in caves and other underground sites (e.g., mines). In Turkey and Syria maternity colonies are found in caves and in very old buildings (castles, inns, etc.). It hibernates in winter in underground sites with a relatively constant temperature of 6-12ºC. The species is an occasional migrant, with movements of up to 488 km recorded (Hutterer et al. 2005; previous reports of 600 km are erroneous).