Like many of our ecologists, Sophie Duncan, who is based in our Exeter office, has been volunteering on a number of bat hibernation checks and underground site inspections over the winter.
Bats in the UK enter a state of torpor during the winter, when food is scarce, by reducing their body temperature and metabolic rate. This helps maintain fat reserves they build up in autumn until insect populations recover in spring.
The aim of the hibernation checks is to monitor species population and diversity present at a site in order to inform conservation efforts. For ecologists, these checks hone bat identification skills as a number of UK bat species dwell in crevices which obscure views of their features. In the southwest, Sophie has encountered a few different bat species in torpor, including Natterer’s, whiskered/Brandt’s, greater horseshoes and lesser horseshoes.
Underground site inspections enable the discovery of important hibernation roosts and facilitate a better understanding of how local bat populations use the landscape, such as natural caves, abandoned buildings, and mining sites within the UK. Sophie says “Taking part in these inspections has enhanced my skills in judging roost potential, dropping identification, and investigating crevices and fissures using endoscopes, whilst promoting best practice techniques as well as health and safety in underground conditions”.
Many of our team are licenced bat specialists, so if you would like any information on bats and how we can help your project, please get in touch with our offices.