Bat census
in Crimean caves

 


 

Support

The project was supported by BP Conservation Programme (award of 2004 year).


History

The Crimea is one of the richest regions of Ukraine on number of bats' species. Totally, 20* species had been registered here (from 26 bat species of Ukraine's fauna). 14 from them have been marked for underground cavities. 7 species have a protection category according IUCN Red list. All bat species of the region are included into the lists, protected by one international agreements and two conventions. 9 species are included into the Red book of Ukraine ( ..., 1994). At the territory of Crimean peninsula there are more than 1000 known karst caves (98 percent of which are concentrated in Crimean Mountains) and not karst natural cavities. Beside it the territory is rich in exhausted underground limestone quarries. Beside general species richness, the Crimean region was known for the biggest bats' aggregations for all territory of Ukraine. In past three species (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, Myotis blythii, Miniopterus schreibersii) formed great colonies in caves of the Crimea. By the last quarter of the 20th century a decreasing in number of known bats' aggregations had been marked and full disappearance of one of three species of the region M. schreibersii had been recorded. For last decades investigations of bats of the region had had a rather fragmentary character. Thus, our aim was to carry out a full-scale census to determine a current state of cave dwelling bats in the Crimea. An important task of our investigations was to mark out important bat sites for their further protection. An additional aim of the work was to rise attention of local public and reservers to the necessity of bats' and bat roosts' protection of the region.

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* Few years ago a presence of two more species in the region was suggested R. mehelyi and R. euryale. However, during the work, no reliable evidences on their records in the Crimea were found, that is why we dont consider them.


Main executors

L. Godlevska (leader), M. Ghazali, Ya. Petrushenko (Schmalhausen Institute of zoology of NAS of Ukraine), V. Mysjuk (Lviv national University), T. Postawa (Institute of systemtics and evolution of animals OF PAS), Z. Nagy (Transylvanian museum association).


Main field-work results

During the summer of 2004 (June beginning of August) and winter of 2005 (February beginning of April) 57 underground sites of the region were checked. They included natural karst caves, coastal grottos and systems of exhausted limestone quarries of the mountain, coastal and plain Crimea. The work was carried out on a typical scheme. In summer caves were examined in the daytime, netting (with mist-nets and a harp-trap) was realized in the night-time at entrances to caves.

 

Bats were found for 34 from 57 underground shelters. Totally in checked caves 14 species have been registered: all known before troglophile species, excepting M. schreibersii, which remains to be in the list of vanished animals of the region. Two species, Pipistrellus pygmaeus, Nyctalus leisleri were recorded outside of cavities. Among species found there are such rare for Ukraine ones as Myotis nattereri, Myotis emarginatus, Barbastella barbastellus, Hypsugo savii, N. leisleri. Three of them (M. emarginatus, N. leisleri, H. savii) were found here for the first time after a long time interval. Big aggregations (> 100 ind.) were found only for 3 species (R. ferrumequinum, M. blythii, M. emarginatus). These three species were revealed to form maternity colonies in checked caves; although single pregnant females were netted at entrances to caves for three more species (Rhinolophus hipposideros, Plecotus auritus and P. austriacus). In summer the biggest bats' aggregation encountered in one underground object included about 9000 specimens of three species; in winter, about 1500 individuals of four species.

The most tragic changes in the Crimean bat fauna concerns with disappearance of M. schreibersii. Since 1947 it hadn't been registered in the region at all. Beside it all known in the past aggregations of M. blythii decreased in 10-100 times or disappeared at all. Certain data testifie about a decreasing of colonies of R. ferrumequinum.

Based on recent results we marked out 9 important bat sites: six ones, at the territory of the Plain Crimea and three of them in the Coastal-Mountain Crimea. Urgent protection measures must be implemented for preservation of key underground sites determined.

 


Photo by L. Godlevska, T. Postawa, V. Mysjuk

 

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14.06.2006.