Fission-fusion dynamics in barbastelle bats

Ephemeral Resource Adaptations Research Group

What’s the project about?
The barbastelle bat (Barbastella barbastellus) is one of our typical forest bats. The dependence on natural forests and a specialized diet makes it inflexible and it is of special conservation concern. Its small size means it is difficult to track and the requirements, especially of the important maternity colonies in the summer remain poorly known.

In a previous study near Bischofszell in Thurgau (Switzerland) up to 134 animals were counted, which is the highest local count for Switzerland meaning there is an important population here. They roost in up to 17 different roosts that fluctuate in occupancy, which seems to indicate they may be a single or a small number of colonies that move between roosts in a fission-fusion system. From a conservation perspective this is really important: do we have one or several colonies, what is their space use and what determines roost switching.

In collaboration with Marius and Franziska Heeb from the Fledermausschutz Thurgau we want to investigate this in a master thesis. For this you would monitor roost use of the bats throughout the breeding season from ca. May to August and collect additional information about roost temperatures etc. Additional methods are possible, for example video recordings of bats in the roost, radio tracking to determine habitat use and find night feeding roosts, use of fluorescent powder, or diet analysis.

What we expect:
  • drivers license
  • ideally German speaking for the interaction with roost owners (most roosts are behind window shutters)
  • willingness to work evenings/nights
  • ability to work alone sometimes
  • ability to carry a ladder and use it alone

Who can apply?
The project is available to MSc students

Who should I contact?
Dina Dechmann, Ephemeral Resource Adaptations Research Group

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