Dynamics of the Natterer’s bat.

Project Name

The spatial and social dynamics of the Natterer’s bat in an agricultural landscape.




Oct 2012-2015

Project Collaborators

Prof S Rushton (Newcastle University)

Dr J Aegerter (Fera)


Newcastle Universityand Fera

Project Description


Temperate bats have long been recognised as having a rich multi-scaled spatial dynamic.  Natterer’s bats (Myotis nattereri) are typical of many British species in that they participate in a variety of distinct seasonal communities and behaviours.  In summer adult females are thought to be largely philopatric to their natal community/landscape where they rear their young.  Individuals in communities are thought to constantly re-assort themselves across a network of roosts, although it is uncertain if these roosts are exclusive to one community or whether communities have key sites (e.g. social hubs).  In autumn they often appear at communal mating sites (often caves) up to 65km distant where the activity is dominated by adult males.  In winter they hibernate with another potentially distinct community.  Their behaviour and social participation within each phase is largely unquantified, and their behaviour between these phases is largely un-described as is our understanding of how age/maturity and sex may mediate their social behaviour.  A much better understanding of bat spatial and social dynamics is necessary to inform statutory functions (e.g. licensed disruption of bat populations), effective conservation and epidemiological modelling (e.g. for both zoonotic diseases and those threatening bat populations).

We intend to map, census and quantify the spatial and social dynamics of at least one community of Natterer’s bats in a lowland agricultural landscape, primarily through the summer.  Extensive radio-tracking, ringing and PIT tagging as well as the collection of a variety of other samples and data will be undertaken.  This information will be used to produce novel descriptions of demographic and epidemiological rates for this species, which will then be incorporated into predictive models of how both the community may respond to changes in the environment, or diseases may spread within the community.