21 August 2012
Data on Jersey’s bat population are joining global findings as part of the iBat project, which aims to track changes in global biodiversity.
The Department of the Environment, with the assistance of volunteers, is using GPS and smartphone technology with ultrasonic detectors to record bat echolocation calls along specified routes.
As well as providing locally important information on bat habitats and patterns, the data that the teams collect will form part of the iBats Monitoring Project which monitors bat populations globally by listening to the sounds bats use to navigate and find food. Volunteers around the world, from Mexico to Mongolia, collect bat sounds so that species change can be monitored and assessed. Bats, along with birds and butterflies, are important biodiversity indicator species and their population trends can be used to monitor the health of ecosystems and the impact of global change.
Natural Environment Officer David Tipping said “Monitoring routes are repeated twice a year and over time, build a comprehensive picture of the Island’s bat population, the habitat bats use and the abundance and diversity of local species.
“Bats are highly sensitive to climate change and, as mammals which roost in buildings and other manmade structures, are particularly vulnerable to the pressure of development. Monitoring the local population allows us to track changes and increase our knowledge of their local status and distribution but can also contribute important information on global biodiversity,” said Mr Tipping.
Recordings are made from a car travelling at about 15 mph and start half an hour after sunset. The routes around the Island are 20 - 25 miles long so that recordings of an hour and a half can be made, encountering and recording hundreds of bats.
Mr Tipping said that the monitoring will help provide the background knowledge needed to ensure that bat populations are conserved, fulfilling Jersey’s obligations under a number of national and international agreements.
iBats (Indicator Bats) is a partnership between the Zoological Society of London and the UK Bat Conservation Trust which is working with both local agencies in Britain, and internationally.