Why Bats?

Bats are important components of ecosystems and providers of ecosystem services that are potential bio-indicators of environmental change because they can represent the response of both small mammal and birds. Bats possess a number of traits that make them vulnerable to climate change, including low reproductive output, ecological specialisation and high trophic positions. In addition, high surface-to-volume ratio due to large wing membranes means that bats may require physiological adaptations to cope with thermoregulation and evaporative water loss under warmer and more arid climates. Habitat loss is also a major threat to bat species worldwide, and forest bats in particular have experienced severe population declines in the past few centuries as a result of forest loss and fragmentation. Our previous work has shown that European bats are likely to experience distributional shifts and range contractions due to future climate change, which can result in considerable losses of genetic diversity, compromising the evolutionary potential of some species. As prolonged frequent droughts are likely to affect arthropod availability during the summer months when bats are breeding, future climate change is likely to affect not only bat survival but also reproductive success.



  • Barbastella barbastellus in hibernation, photo: Daniel Hargreaves