I Bats Romania
Why arte bats so important? In addition to having a major role in sustaining ecological balance, they are the only flying mammals that hunts at night feeding on insects. Currently in their research, biologists put higher accent on the absence / presence of bats in the known habitats. Because bats are very sensitive to changes in their environment, the presence / absence of them is a good indicator for their level of endangerment in a particular habitat. Based on this, many of the ecological research (eg environmental impact assessments) focuses on bats as indicator species. By finding proper methods for the protection of these species, the negative effects of human activities can be reduced. To implement these solutions is needed, first, specific data showing the exact location of bats (distribution maps), information on specific feeding behavior and hunting.
The Romanian Bat Protection Association joined the international program in partnership with the Zoological Society of London since 2006. The project goal is to research bats along national roads. The method initiated by the partner from the UK was for the first time applied in Romania. This research involves a periodic activity, by car on different roads, driving with a speed of 25 km/h, on a transect of approximately 40 km. Researchers set on a vehicle an ultrasound detector (ultrasound bat detector turns into audible sound by the human ear) and the detector is connected to a digital recorder. The exact location of the bat is determined by GPS. Ultrasounds are collected subsequently analyzed on the computer. All data is transmitted through a web portal (www.ibats.org.uk). For this work was needed recruiting volunteers, because the greater the investigated area the faster it can cause changes in populations of bats, which can lead to colony decline. Subsequently, Bulgaria also joined the program in which they worked with the same research methods. Thanks to the financial support of Darwin Grant initiatives designed to involve researchers and other developed countries such as Hungary, Ukraine, Russia Dr. Kate Jones (researcher at the Zoological Society of London) managed to conduct studies with these methods in Mongolia, Taiwan, United States also. In collaboration with researchers from the Bat Conservation Trust (UK association for the protection of bats) and the Zoological Society of London was performed the statistical analysis of the data collected.
Romania started the research in 2006 with seven researchers in the country. Since then, the number rose to 222 volunteers in the project by going through 15 137 km. The research was conducted every month from May to September and during winter the data collected was analyzed. With this method it was possible to make a distribution maps, unknown until that moment in the literature of the country. The research was conducted in the following counties: Satu Mare, Salaj, Ilfov, Cluj, Iasi, Sibiu, Arad, Constanta, Tulcea, Harghita, Caras Severin, Gorj, Mehedinti, Suceava, Buzau. Were analyzed and recorded over 16091 ultrasound, belonging to 15 species of bats.
Recruitment of volunteers
The enthusiasm of the volunteers largely determined the success of research. The Romanian Bat Protection Association holds annual training for volunteers, because only then it is possible that research could be conducted with the same methods.
Dissemination of results
Project results are communicated in different conferences and scientific articles. Thus the results of the project were presented at the following conference sessions: the first National Conference of Bat Research in Romania, the XIth –XIIth European Bat Research Symposium on VI – VI National Conference for Bat Protection in Hungary, Conservation of Biology organized by the University of Cambridge, EUROBATS meetings (international convention for the protection of bats).
For more information about the program can visit the website: www.ibats.org.uk