Barbastella barbastelluswestern barbastelle

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Geographic Range

Barbastella barbastellus is distributed over most of Europe. It is also present in the southern half of Britain as well as islands of the Mediterranean, Morocco, and the Canary Islands.

Habitat

Western Barbastelles typically occupy forested upland areas. During the summer months they are found roosting in domestic dwellings and hollow trees. Their winter hibernation habitat usually consists of fissures in underground structures such as caves and mines with low ambient temperatures and dry air. (Rydell and Bogdanowicz 1997)

Physical Description

The Western Barbastelle is medium sized and has long black pelage with white or yellow tips. The underside of the body is somewhat paler. Fur covers parts of the uropatagium and the wings, and the tail is nearly as long as the body. It is distinguishable among other European bats by its short wide ears that face forward and connect across the brow. The female is significantly larger than the male; combined ranges of measurement are as follows: head and body, 45-60 mm; wingspan, 245-300; tail length, 36-52. (Nowak 1999, Rydell and Bogdanowicz 1997)

  • Range mass
    6 to 10 g
    0.21 to 0.35 oz

Reproduction

Females become sexually mature during their first year of life and give birth to usually one and sometimes two offspring. There is sexual segregation in the summer with fertile females forming colonies of 5-30 females. Mating seems to occur in the late summer and early autumn, but winter mating has been reported in parts of their range. Young are born from May to early August and reach full size in 8-9 weeks. (Rydell and Bogdanowicz 1997, Nowak 1999)

  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
    2
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

Barbastella barbastellus roosts in hollow trees, behind loose bark, and in the outer areas of caves, mines and cellars. It emerges from its daytime roosts before sunset and is reported to wander considerably. It typically flies low to the ground but also feeds at high altitudes during good weather. Most foraging occurs along edge habitats. Western Barbastelles hibernate from November to March, often in large clusters. They sometimes form joint clusters with Plecotus auritus. Hibernating individuals emerge approximately every two weeks.

Echolocation calls of B. barbastellus make it easily distinguishable among European bats. Rydell and Bogdanowicz (1997) describe the calls: "The pulses have a short (1-1.5ms) narrow band component in the beginning and end with a short downward frequency-sweep. The pulses are 4-5 ms long and are repeated 8-9 times per second". (Bogdanowicz 1983, Nowak 1999, Rydell and Bogdanowicz 1997, Stebbings and Griffith 1986)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Moths account for a majority of its diet (73-94% by weight in Germany and Switzerland), and there is an absence of dung beetles or other hard-bodied insects. Evidence suggests a gleaning or aerial-hawking method of hunting, with feeding usually taking place 4-5m above ground. (Rydell et al. 1996)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Western Barbastelles consume large quantities of insects which may benefit humans in the surrounding areas.

Conservation Status

Barbastella barbastellus populations throughout Europe have been declining and it is now listed as vulnerable worldwide. It is disappearing in Western Europe due to the loss of hollow trees, habitat disruption and pollution. It is found only rarely throughout most of its habitat. (Nowak 1999, Stebbings and Griffith 1986)

Other Comments

Western Barbastelles presumably get their name from the Latin words "barba" and "stella," meaning star-beard and referring to the superficial star-shaped mustache apparent on the upper lip.

Contributors

Chris Reavill (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

Bogdanowicz, W. 1983. Community structure and interspecific interactions in bats hibernating in Poznan. Acta Theriologica, 28: 357-370.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.

Rydell, J., G. Natuschke, A. Theiler, P. Zingg. 1996. Food habits of the barbastelle bat Barbastella barbastellus. Econgraphy, 19: 62-66.

Rydell, J., W. Bogdanowicz. May 9, 1997. Barbastella barbastellus. Mammalian Species, 557: 1-8.

Stebbings, R., F. Griffith. 1986. Distribution and Status of Bats in Europe. Great Britain: Cambrian News.