Experience with bat research in towns and elsewhere

Examples of bat surveys and bat counts made in towns in Finland

by Terhi Wermundsen

The first bat survey for land use planning in Finland was conducted in 2001 in the city of Järvenpää by Yrjö Siivonen (Siivonen 2001). The present standard used to define the areas important to bats on the map, and to classify these areas in three categories to show the priority conservation areas, was established in 2005 by the city of Helsinki (Siivonen 2004). The areas categorized as important to bats in Finland include maternity colonies, summer and winter roosts, foraging areas, and commuting routes (Siivonen 2004). So far, the majority of bat surveys in Finland have been carried out in the summer. Thus, knowledge on areas important to bats in wintertime is urgently needed.

Surveys and monitoring of bats in Estonia, Lithuania and elsewhere

by Matti Masing and Kazimieras Baranauskas

We started detector-based bat surveys and monitoring in 1992, and since then have developed and implemented efficient methods to find, identify and count bats in flight (Masing, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2006, 2015a, 2015b; Masing, Lutsar & Lotman, 1998, 2000, 2005; Masing & Möller, 2004; Keppart, Masing & Lutsar, 2005; Masing & Baranauskas, 2011a, 2011b).

Since 1994 detector-based bat counting methods are constantly used in Estonia's bat monitoring scheme (Masing, Lutsar & Lotman, 1998, 2000, 2005; Masing, 2008, 2011).

During two summers (1995 and 1996) we used a Skye Instruments SBR-1200 heterodyne detector to find and identify bats in Lithuanian country estates. In these studies we were able to identify most bats on species level, but a number of bats remained unidentified (Masing, Baranauskas & Mickevičius, 1997).

Since 2000 we have used more sophisticated heterodyne and time-expansion detectors (Pettersson D240 and 240x), which enabled us to correctly identify more bats by using different sound characters provided by heterodyne and time-expansion systems.

In 2002—2004 we compiled Estonia's first „Bat conservation management plan“ (Masing, Keppart & Lutsar, 2008).

Since 2004 we have counted bats on migration routes in coastal areas (Masing, 2009a, 2009b, 2011).

During 2005—2007 we carried out bat research on the coast in connection with the planning of windmill parks, to reveal bat-safe areas for establishing windmills (Masing, 2006).

The value of Estonian parks as bat habitats during summer was estimated using special indices of value (Masing, 2009c).

Besides detector-based research, we have also studied hibernating bats in underground roosts such as caves, mines, fortification tunnels and cellars (Masing, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1990, 2015a, 2015b; Masing & Buša, 1983; Liiva & Masing, 1987; Lutsar, Masing & Poots, 2000; Masing & Lutsar, 2007; Baranauskas, 2006; Masing, Baranauskas, Siivonen & Wermundsen, 2009).

In recent years we have studied bats in bat-boxes in Lithuania and found six species present (Baranauskas, 2007, 2009, 2010).

By today we have studied bats in various parts of Europe, using bat-detectors and other equipment (see page „Bat-work carried out in European towns“). We have gained a good knowledge about the distribution and abundance of bats in towns and elsewhere, as well as about flight activity and habitat choice of each bat species observed.

Now we are eager to offer our long-term experience with European bats to help those in need of bat-related information in various sectors of human society like nature conservation, wildlife mapping, monitoring bat populations, bat-friendly forest management, town planning, developing windmill parks etc.