A recent study, based on data collected by the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) suggests that even the most widespread and adaptable UK bat species, the common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), is negatively affected by increasing urbanised areas. The common and soprano pipistrelle were only identified as separate species in the 1990s but this research indicates that the soprano pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus) has very different habitat preferences within the urban settings.
The research was led by Paul Lintott (University of Exeter) who studied the two pipistrelle species using data from the NBMP, a long-running citizen science scheme (more about this project HERE). The scientists aimed to determine if these two similar species responded similarly to an urban landscape and how the latter affected their distribution.
Contrary to what is frequently assumed the two pipistrelle species had distinctive responses to their anthropogenic environment. The soprano pipistrelle was found to be more prevalent in areas with higher amounts of freshwater compared to the common pipistrelle. In fact, the latter appeared to actively avoid areas that soprano’s pipistrelle used for hunting. P. pipistrellus was actually more frequently recorded in urban landscapes containing a high proportion of green space and it showed a strong decline in areas of “gray space” (i.e. buildings and roads).
The authors, thus, demonstrate that even what is considered to be a very adaptable UK bat species – the common pipistrelle – can be negatively affected by urbanisation. They also emphasize that “increasing urbanization is likely to have a negative effect on both pipistrelle species” and highlight the need to implement “landscape-scale environmental improvement programs, such as the creation of effective urban green space schemes”.
You can access the full article, free of charge, HERE - Differential responses of cryptic bat species to the urban landscape
Bat Conservation Trust is working closely with the Royal Horticultural Society and The Wildlife Trust on “Wild About Garden Week” to encourage more people to make their gardens more bat friendly
Gardening for bats http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/encouraging_bats.html
Bats and lighting http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/bats_and_lighting.html
Buildings, Planning and Development http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/bats_and_lighting.html
- bats.org.uk / news / new study finds that common and widespread uk bat species are negatively affected by increased urban
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