Towns are important habitats for people. So why should somebody connect this habitat type with bats, night-active small mammals which originate from natural habitats like forest, steppe, caves etc.?
Investigations with ultrasound detectors have revealed that many bat species live in tows, and some species live there in great numbers. However, in different parts of Europe, and even in different parts of a single country, the living conditions of bats in towns are not exactly the same. In some towns only a few common bat species live while in others also rare species can be found. Some species may live in a town throughout the year but others may live there only for short periods.
These observations rise the following important ecology- and conservation-related questions. Why do bats live in towns? What are they doing there? Which species live in towns? Which habitats do bats use in towns? Which are the factors influencing their survival and behaviour in towns? Are habitats in towns important for the survival of bat populations living in the area? Which are the relationships between humans and bats in towns? Etc.
Answering the above questions will considerably broaden our knowledge about ecological requirements of bats as an animal group. Because human settlements have become a widespread habitat type all over Europe, this habitat type can potentially influence the life of various animals, including bats.
Without studying bats in towns it is simply impossible to know about how towns influence bat populations living in the area. What should people do with bats living in towns? Should we protect these bats? And if yes, then how?
Natterer's Bat, a threatened bat species living on the verge of survival in some European towns. (photo by Matti Masing, 2002)