Western Barbastelle

Barbastella barbastellus (Schreber, 1774)

Order Chiroptera

Family Vespertilionidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Vulnerable VU [B1 b(i, ii, iv)], BDA-II, III; International: IUCN-VU, BeC-II, BoC-II, HD-II, IV.

General distribution. Europe, in the north to the southern parts of the Scandinavian peninsula and Estonia; in the south to Morocco, the Canary islands; in the east to the Caucasus Mountains (including Azerbaijan and Armenia).

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. The species was found for the first time in Bulgaria near the mouth of the river Kamchiya in 1935 [1]. Until the end of 2006 it was known from 23 localities (only 6 before 1985) [2]. Most often it has been found in the Central [3] and the Western Balkan range [4] and in the Western Rhodopes [2]. Most shelters have been registered at altitudes of over 500 m. In the lower areas, singular individuals have been registered (Kresna gorge; the village of Zhernov, Pleven region; Chernomorets, Burgas region). The highest locality is in the Vodnite dupki cave in the Severen Dzhendem reserve (1 420 m) [3, 5]. The peculiarities in the distribution and the abundance show that its range in the Balkan peninsula is of a relict nature [6]. The numbers at places are good but as a whole they are low [7].

Habitats. Most preferred are the wet forest habitats in the middle mountainous belt (at altitudes of 700 1 400 m). During the winter it has been found singularly or in groups of up to 30 individuals in the coldest, entrance parts of the caves at temperatures about 0-2 °C [5, 7]. In the summer months it lives almost only in hollows of trees and less often in other shelters (for example, cracks in rocks).

Biology. It probably breeds in most of the habitats found in the mountains, but so far there have been no concrete data. The only sure evidence of breeding in Bulgaria is in the dense forest of the river Kamchiya [1]. It makes local migrations, rarely exceeding 50 km. Data about the food range in Bulgaria are absent. In Central Europe it feeds on small nocturnal butterflies and flies [8].

Negative factors. Felling old tress and trees with hollows restricts the possibilities for finding appropriate shelters, especially for the nursery colonies. The direct disturbance of the cave colonies in the winter months may be the reason for the death-rate increase during that period.

Conservation measures taken. The species is protected according to the Biological Diversity Act, EUROBATS and all international conventions (without CITES). A small part of the habitats found fall within reserves (for example, Severen Dzhendem), within national (the Central Balkan National Park) and natural parks (the Rila Monastery). Some habitats are included in the List of Significant Underground Habitats of Bats in Bulgaria [9].

Conservation measures needed. Declaration of protected territories at the swarming roosts. Development of a management plan for the forest species of bats. Organization of targeted monitoring.

References. 1. Heinrich, 1936; 2. Benda et al., 2003; 3. Ivanova, 1998; 4. Pandurska & Beshkov, 1998; 5. Schunger et al., 2004; 6. Paunovic et al., 2003; 7. Pandurska & Ivanova, 2003; 8. Beck, 1995; 9. Ivanova, 2005.

Author: Boyan Petrov

Western Barbastelle (distribution map)

Western Barbastelle (drawing)