- Vespertilio barbastellus Schreber, 1774
Western Barbastelle, Barbastelle, Barbastelle Bat
IUCN: NT; Be (II); Bo (EUROBATS); EUHD (II); RDBUkr: Зникаючі
Value of species
The genus comprises two Palaearctic species with little overlap in range. The population from the Canaries is at present regarded as endemic subspecies B. barbastellus guanchae (Trujillo et al. 2002, Juste et al. 2003).
The Western Barbastelle (Barbastella barbastellus) is largely restricted to central and southern Europe, although its range extends into the Caucasus, Anatolia, Morocco (North Africa) and the Canary Islands (La Gomera and Tenerife only). It occurs to 1,800 m asl in the Alps (Spitzenberger 2002), 1,900 m asl in the Caucasus and 2,260 m asl in the Pyrenees (Mitchell-Jones et al. 1999, K. Tsytsulina pers. comm. 2005). Several countries have recently been included in its range: Pētersons et al. (2010) found 20 new sites occupied by the Western Barbastelle in northern Latvia, where this species may have gone previously undetected due to the use of inadequate instrumentation; Presetnik et al. (2014) recorded several individuals during a survey in Montenegro; Benda et al. (2012) reported on records of the Western Barbastelle in northern Iran. A single adult male specimen was also found by Mucedda et al. (2012) in Sicily, where the species has not been recorded since 1956.
A rare or infrequent species. Summer colonies number usually ca. 30 individuals. Winter clusters are usually small (individuals tend to be solitary), but can reach 500 and, rarely, up to 1,000 bats in France, Poland and over 7,000 in Slovakia (Schober 2004). It is extinct in the Netherlands since 1984. The last record of this species in Norway was in 1949, and it possibly went extinct there (van der Kooij in litt. 2006). Population decreases are widely reported and it is considered threatened in many range states. Very small numbers in large part of the range with large temporary aggregations in areas without natural caves. Populations in Germany have been increasing in the last 5 years now that insecticide use has been reduced (D. Kock pers. comm. 2005). Relatively frequent in woodlands in western part of Caucasus and without reported decline; in Ukraine it is rare (S. Kruskop pers. comm. 2005) but appears to be stable (Bashta 2012). In Africa, population size and trends are unknown.
The Western Barbastelle (Barbastella barbastellus) forages in mature woodland and woodland edges, feeding mostly on large moths (Andrea et al. 2012). In summer, roosting sites occur in mature woodlands and occasionally in older buildings. This bat shows a high fidelity to roosting and foraging areas but not to single trees, which are changed frequently (Hillen et al. 2009, Hillen et al. 2010, Zeale et al. 2012). In winter the hibernation may start in trees, but later underground sites are preferred. Underground habitats may be of any type, but usually consist of very cold sites. Recent data suggest that hibernacula are visited in the pre-hibernation period and used also as breeding sites (Gottfried 2009). The Western Barbastelle is usually found in smaller numbers (up to 50) within natural caves, but in regions where these are missing it aggregates in large groups within mines and bunkers. The maximum distance covered by an individual was recorded in Austria and corresponds to 290 km (Kepka 1960).
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