Nyctalus lasiopterus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Chiroptera Vespertilionidae

Scientific Name: Nyctalus lasiopterus (Schreber, 1780)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Giant Noctule, Greater Noctule Bat
French Grande Noctule
Spanish Nóctulo Grande

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A4c; C2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-04-25
Assessor(s): Alcaldé, J., Juste, J. & Paunović, M.
Reviewer(s): Piraccini, R.
Contributor(s): Hutson, A.M., Karataş, A. & Palmeirim, J.

Deforestation, particularly the loss of old trees, is a problem in many parts of the range and is likely to be causing a population decline. The range is fragmented and the colonies tend to be mainly small. Dozens of individuals have been found dead at wind farms from Spain (C. Ibáñez, S. Sánchez and J.T. Alcalde pers. comm). A critical decline is suspected in Ukraine and European Russia (Vlaschenko et al. 2010 and 2016). Although there are no precise figures on population decline it seems reasonable to list this species as Vulnerable given what is currently known about the threats, the population numbers and the range. It qualifies as VU under criteria A4c and C2a(i).

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Giant Noctule (Nyctalus lasiopterus) has a very scattered distribution through central and southern Europe (Iberia to the Balkans, Urals) and north Africa (Morocco (only two records in northwest Morocco), Libya (five records in Cyrenaica), and possibly Algeria (possibly one record in Algeria identified as Nyctalus noctula by Loche 1867, the specimen is lost). There are an increasing number of records from Turkey (Karatas et al. 2007, Yiğit et al. 2008, Paksuz and Özkan 2011). Outside the Mediterranean region the range extends eastwards through Asia Minor to the Caucasus, northern Iran, Kazakhstan and the Urals in Russia. Of the Mediterranean islands, it has been recorded in Sicily and Cyprus (Benda et al. 2007). The species is easy to detect with bat detectors, so it is known that the species' distribution in Europe is genuinely extremely patchy. Until 1999, it had been recorded in 120-130 localities in Europe (Benzal 1999). It occurs up to 1,900 m asl in Switzerland. Recent new records of the Giant Noctule include northern Italian peninsula (Province of Venice, Vernier et al. 2008) and Croatian islands (Kornati archipelago, Kovač et al. 2011).
Countries occurrence:
Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bulgaria; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Italy (Sicilia); Kazakhstan; Libya; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Moldova; Monaco; Morocco; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Switzerland; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):1900
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


The patchy distribution and low population density in most of its range suggest a relatively small global population. Breeding colonies are typically small (up to 35 females), and few are known. Only two larger-sized (50-100 females) breeding colonies are known in the world. It is rare throughout the range in the Russian Federation (K. Tsytsulina pers. comm.). There is a strong population in northern Hungary. The species is difficult to survey, and difficult to capture with mist nets as it hunts 10-20 m above the ground (K. Tsytsulina in litt. 2005) or even higher. Although the global population trend is unknown, a decline is suspected in Ukraine and Russia, and in Spain (stronghold of the species), mortality caused by wind farms could noticeably reduce the population.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:0-9999Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Giant Noctule (Nyctalus lasiopterus) forages over mixed and deciduous forest and wooded river valleys (the latter especially on migration). It is highly dependent on mature forest: the species needs a number (27-39) of old trees (Popa-Lisseanu et al. 2008) to support a colony, hence any tree removal is a threat. It is largely insectivorous, feeding mostly on Lepidoptera and Coleoptera, but is also reported to take many small passerines in the southern part of the range during migration. During the bird migration seasons, passerines are likely to form a major part of the diet. Faeces collected during these times are composed 90% of feathers (Smirnov and Vekhnik 2013) During these times, 70% of faeces collected contain feathers (Ibáñez et al. 2001).  Tracking the species using radar in Spain it is now known that this bat flies up to several hundred metres presumably to catch migratory birds.

In summer it roosts in hollow trees and bat-boxes, and occasionally in buildings. Trees and rock crevices may also be used as hibernacula in winter. It sometimes uses similar habitats to the other species such as N. noctula. Nursery colonies are usually relatively small (up to 35 females). Females give birth to a single pup per litter. It is considered to be migratory in the north-east of its range, but there is very little data, although a high density of only males has been found in northern Croatia (M. Mazija pers. Comm. 2016). Vagrants have been recorded well outside the normal range (Hutterer et al. 2005). Some areas in the western part of the range appear to be occupied exclusively by males, while others have both sexes according to capture results (Ibáñez et al. 2009). Its foraging range may be greater than 30 km in is usually from 15 to 40 km, but can reach 130 km in a single night (Popa-Lisseanu et al. 2009).
Generation Length (years):4.6
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Little is known about potential threats, but loss of mature woodland and loss of or disturbance to roost sites (old trees) have a negative impact on the species. In Cádiz (Southern Spain) it is estimated that a hundred Giant Noctules are killed each year by wind turbines (Ibáñez and Sánchez-Navarro, submitted), and more individuals have been found in other regions such as Soria and Navarra (Alcalde pers. comm. 2015). Exceptionally, all pups were found dead in 2005 at one of the two largest colonies in Spain (located in a city park). The cause of these deaths was not known (Juste pers. comm. 2006). One colony disappeared in Spain due to the cutting of old trees in a city park (Juste 2007), and the same seems to have happened in a Ukrainian forest (Vlaschenko et al. 2010).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is protected by national legislation in most range states. There are also international legal obligations for its protection through the Bonn Convention (Eurobats) and Bern Convention, in parts of its range where these apply. It is included in Annex IV of EU Habitats and Species Directive. No specific conservation actions are known. It occurs in a number of national parks and protected areas within its range (K. Tsytsulina pers. comm. 2005). However, in Spain the two known largest colonies are located in city parks, outside protected areas (Juste 2007). It seems that it has declined in Ukraine and European Russia (Vlaschenko et al. 2010 and 2016). More information is needed on population size and trends, ecology, migration patterns and routes and potential threats. 

Citation: Alcaldé, J., Juste, J. & Paunović, M. 2016. Nyctalus lasiopterus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T14918A22015318. . Downloaded on 22 September 2018.
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