Barbastella barbastellus 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Chiroptera Vespertilionidae

Scientific Name: Barbastella barbastellus
Species Authority: (Schreber, 1774)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Western Barbastelle, Barbastelle
French Barbastelle Commune, Barbastelle D'Europe
Spanish Barbastela
Taxonomic Notes: The genus comprises two Palaearctic species with little overlap in range. The population from the Canaries is at present regarded as endemic subspecies B. barbastellus guanchae (Trujillo et al. 2002, Juste et al. 2003).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-04-25
Assessor(s): Piraccini, R.
Reviewer(s): Racey, P.A.
Contributor(s): Hutson, A.M., Aulagnier, S. & Spitzenberger, F.
Although this species has a large range, it is generally rare, occurring in low density and numbers. It is mainly sedentary. The population is fragmented and linked to particular kinds of old forest habitats, which are declining. The species does not easily colonise new areas. Declines are widely reported in most of its range with a few exceptions in recent years. The status of this species is linked to forestry practices and the decline in the number of old trees (one colony may use up to 30 old trees with holes each summer season). Has specific habitat and diet requirements. Listed as Near Threatened (approaching A4c), as it is suspected that population declines will approach 30% over a 15 year period including both the past and the future.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Western Barbastelle (Barbastella barbastellus) is largely restricted to central and southern Europe, although its range extends into the Caucasus, Anatolia, Morocco (North Africa) and the Canary Islands (La Gomera and Tenerife only). It occurs to 1,800 m asl in the Alps (Spitzenberger 2002), 1,900 m asl in the Caucasus and 2,260 m asl in the Pyrenees (Mitchell-Jones et al. 1999, K. Tsytsulina pers. comm. 2005). Several countries have recently been included in its range: Pētersons et al. (2010) found 20 new sites occupied by the Western Barbastelle in northern Latvia, where this species may have gone previously undetected due to the use of inadequate instrumentation; Presetnik et al. (2014) recorded several individuals during a survey in Montenegro; Benda et al. (2012) reported on records of the Western Barbastelle in northern Iran. A single adult male specimen was also found by Mucedda et al. (2012) in Sicily, where the species has not been recorded since 1956.
Countries occurrence:
Andorra; Armenia (Armenia); Austria; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Holy See (Vatican City State); Hungary; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Ireland; Italy (Sardegna, Sicilia); Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Moldova; Monaco; Montenegro; Morocco; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation; San Marino; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain (Baleares, Canary Is.); Sweden; Switzerland; Ukraine; United Kingdom
Possibly extinct:
Regionally extinct:
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2260
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:A rare or infrequent species. Summer colonies number usually ca. 30 individuals. Winter clusters are usually small (individuals tend to be solitary), but can reach 500 and, rarely, up to 1,000 bats in France, Poland and over 7,000 in Slovakia (Schober 2004). It is extinct in the Netherlands since 1984. The last record of this species in Norway was in 1949, and it possibly went extinct there (van der Kooij in litt. 2006). Population decreases are widely reported and it is considered threatened in many range states. Very small numbers in large part of the range with large temporary aggregations in areas without natural caves. Populations in Germany have been increasing in the last 5 years now that insecticide use has been reduced (D. Kock pers. comm. 2005). Relatively frequent in woodlands in western part of Caucasus and without reported decline; in Ukraine it is rare (S. Kruskop pers. comm. 2005) but appears to be stable (Bashta 2012). In Africa, population size and trends are unknown.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Western Barbastelle (Barbastella barbastellus) forages in mature woodland and woodland edges, feeding mostly on large moths (Andrea et al. 2012). In summer, roosting sites occur in mature woodlands and occasionally in older buildings. This bat shows a high fidelity to roosting and foraging areas but not to single trees, which are changed frequently (Hillen et al. 2009, Hillen et al. 2010, Zeale et al. 2012). In winter the hibernation may start in trees, but later underground sites are preferred. Underground habitats may be of any type, but usually consist of very cold sites. Recent data suggest that hibernacula are visited in the pre-hibernation period and used also as breeding sites (Gottfried 2009). The Western Barbastelle is usually found in smaller numbers (up to 50) within natural caves, but in regions where these are missing it aggregates in large groups within mines and bunkers. The maximum distance covered by an individual was recorded in Austria and corresponds to 290 km (Kepka 1960).
Generation Length (years):5

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Loss of old mature woodland and ancient trees with loose bark or wood crevices (reforested areas are not suitable for this species); disturbance and loss of underground habitats, disturbance and loss of roost sites in older buildings. In Germany, habitat loss and fragmentation (caused by inter alia infrastructure development, forestry, and the renovation or demolition of old buildings used as roost sites), and disturbance (e.g. from cave tourism) are major threats (Schulenberg 2005); accidental mortality (roadkill) is also a problem (Rudolph et al. 2003).

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 where these apply. It is included in Annex II (and IV) of EU Habitats and Species Directive, and hence requires special measures for conservation including designation of Special Areas for Conservation. Some suitable habitat is protected through Natura 2000. Research is underway to establish conservation requirements for this species. Recommendations include adopting forestry practices that maintain old trees in sufficient numbers.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
3. Shrubland -> 3.8. Shrubland - Mediterranean-type Shrubby Vegetation
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
7. Caves and Subterranean Habitats (non-aquatic) -> 7.1. Caves and Subterranean Habitats (non-aquatic) - Caves
7. Caves and Subterranean Habitats (non-aquatic) -> 7.2. Caves and Subterranean Habitats (non-aquatic) - Other Subterranean Habitats
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.1. Recreational activities
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.3. Work & other activities
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

Bibliography [top]

Andreas, M., Reiter, A. and Benda, P. 2012. Prey selection and seasonal diet change in the Western Barbastelle Bat (Barbastella barbastellus). Acta Chiropterologica 14(1): 81-92.

Bashta, A. T. 2012. Hibernacula of Barbastella barbastellus in Ukraine: distribution and some ecological aspects. Vespertilio 16: 55-68.

Benda, P., Faizolahi, K., Andreas, M., Obuch, J., Reiter, A., Ševčík, M., Uhrin, M., Vallo, P. and Ashrafi, S. 2012. Bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera) of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. Part 10. Bat fauna of Iran. Acta Societatis Zoologicae Bohemicae 76: 163-582.

Gottfried, I. 2009. Use of underground hibernacula by the barbastelle (Barbastella barbastellus) outside the hibernation season. Acta Chiropterologica 11(2): 363-373.

Hillen, J., Kiefer, A. and Veith, M. 2009. Foraging site fidelity shapes the spatial organisation of a population of female western barbastelle bats. Biological Conservation 142: 817-823.

Hillen, J., Kiefer, A. and Veith, M. 2010. Interannual fidelity to roosting habitat and flights paths by female western barbastelle bats. Acta Chiropterologica 12(1): 187-195.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-2. Available at: (Accessed: 04 September 2016).

Juste, J., Ibañez, C., Trujillo, D., Muñoz, J. and Ruedi, M. 2003. Phylogeography of the barbastelles bats (Barbastella barbastellus) from the western Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. Acta Chiropterologica 5(2): 165-175.

Kepka, O. 1960. Die Ergenbisse der Fledermausberingung in der Steinmark vom Jahr 1949-1960. Bonner Zoologische Beitrage 11: 54-76.

Mitchell-Jones, A.J., Amori, G., Bogdanowicz, W., Kryštufek, B., Reijnders, P.J.H., Spitzenberger, F., Stubbe, M., Thissen, J.B.M., Vohralik, V. and Zima, J. 1999. The Atlas of European Mammals. Academic Press, London, UK.

Mucedda, M., Fichera, G. and Pindichedda, E. 2012. Record of Barbastella barbastellus (Schreber, 1774) (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) in Sicily after 56 years. Natura Rerum 1: 79-81.

Pacifici, M., Santini, L., Di Marco, M., Baisero, D., Francucci, L., Grottolo Marasini, G., Visconti, P. and Rondinini, C. 2013. Generation length for mammals. Nature Conservation 5: 87–94.

Pētersons, G., Vintulis, V. and Šuba, J. 2010. New data on the distribution of the barbastelle bat Barbastella barbastellus in Latvia. Estonian Journal of Ecology 59(62-69).

Presetnik, P., Paunović, M., Karapandža, B., Đurović, M., Ivanović, Č., Ždralević, M., Benda, P. and Budinski, I. 2014. Distribution of bats (Chiroptera) in Montenegro. Vespertilio 17: 129-156.

Rudolph, B.-U., Hammer, M. and Zahn, A. 2003. Die Mopsfledermaus Barbastella barbastellus in Bayern.

Schober, W. 2004. Barbastella barbastellus (Schreber, 1774) – Mopsfledermaus. Handbuch der Säugetiere Europas, Band 4: Fledertiere, Teil 2: Chiroptera 2: Vespertilionidae 2, Molossidae, Nycteridae: 1071-1091.

Schulenberg, J. 2005. Säugetiere (Mammalia). In: A. Gunther, U. Nigmann and R. Achtziger (eds), Analyse der Gefährdungsursachen von planungsrelevanten Tiergruppen in Deutschland zur Ergänzung der bestehenden Roten Listen gefährdeter Tiere.- Schriftenr, pp. 70-112. Biol Vielfalt, BfN, Bonn-Bad Godesberg.

Spitzenberger F. 2002. Die Säugetierfauna Österreichs. Bundesministerium für Land- und Forstwirtschaft. Umwelt und Wasserwirtschaft, Band.

Trujillo, D., Ibañez, C. and Juste, J. 2002. A new subspecies of Barbastella barbastellus (Mammalia: Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) from the Canary Islands. Revue Suisse de Zoologie 109: 543-550.

Zeale, M. R. K. Z., Davidson-Watts, I. and Jones, G. 2012. Home range use and habitat selection by barbastelle bats (Barbastella barbastellus): implications for conservation. Journal of Mammalogy 93(4): 1110-1118.

Citation: Piraccini, R. 2016. Barbastella barbastellus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T2553A22029285. . Downloaded on 22 October 2016.
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