Barbastella barbastellus is distributed over most of Europe. It is also present in the southern half of Britain as well as islands of the Mediterranean, Morocco, and the Canary Islands.
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native )
The Western Barbastelle is medium sized and has long black pelage with white or yellow tips. The underside of the body is somewhat paler. Fur covers parts of the uropatagium and the wings, and the tail is nearly as long as the body. It is distinguishable among other European bats by its short wide ears that face forward and connect across the brow. The female is significantly larger than the male; combined ranges of measurement are as follows: head and body, 45-60 mm; wingspan, 245-300; tail length, 36-52. (Nowak 1999, Rydell and Bogdanowicz 1997)
Range mass: 6 to 10 g.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Habitat and Ecology
Western Barbastelles typically occupy forested upland areas. During the summer months they are found roosting in domestic dwellings and hollow trees. Their winter hibernation habitat usually consists of fissures in underground structures such as caves and mines with low ambient temperatures and dry air. (Rydell and Bogdanowicz 1997)
Terrestrial Biomes: forest
Moths account for a majority of its diet (73-94% by weight in Germany and Switzerland), and there is an absence of dung beetles or other hard-bodied insects. Evidence suggests a gleaning or aerial-hawking method of hunting, with feeding usually taking place 4-5m above ground. (Rydell et al. 1996)
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: wild: 21.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Females become sexually mature during their first year of life and give birth to usually one and sometimes two offspring. There is sexual segregation in the summer with fertile females forming colonies of 5-30 females. Mating seems to occur in the late summer and early autumn, but winter mating has been reported in parts of their range. Young are born from May to early August and reach full size in 8-9 weeks. (Rydell and Bogdanowicz 1997, Nowak 1999)
Range number of offspring: 1 to 2.
Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous
Average number of offspring: 2.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Barbastella barbastellus
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Barbastella barbastellus
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Vulnerable (VU)
Barbastella barbastellus populations throughout Europe have been declining and it is now listed as vulnerable worldwide. It is disappearing in Western Europe due to the loss of hollow trees, habitat disruption and pollution. It is found only rarely throughout most of its habitat. (Nowak 1999, Stebbings and Griffith 1986)
US Federal List: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Western Barbastelles consume large quantities of insects which may benefit humans in the surrounding areas.
It is rare throughout its range. In Britain, only a few breeding roosts are known; Paston Great Barn in Norfolk, parts of Exmoor and the Quantock Hills in Devon and Somerset (see Tarr Steps), the Mottisfont woodland in Hampshire and Ebernoe Common in West Sussex.The UK distribution can be found on the National Biodiversity Network website here. In Norway, it was considered extinct, having only been sighted in 1896, 1911, 1913 and 1949. However, it was again found in 2004 and 2008.
They roost in splits or behind loose bark of trees all year, normally in ancient or old growth deciduous woods that have a substantial understorey. Damaged or dead trees are the ideal habitat. They move between the roosts with great frequency.
They are protected under the European Habitats Directive. In the UK their rarity means that Woodlands containing the species may be considered for notification as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and may attract a grant under Natural Englands Environmental Stewardship scheme.
The barbastelle has two main call types used for echolocation. The frequency parameters of call type 1 lie between 30–38 kHz, have most energy at 33 kHz and have an average duration of 2.5 ms. The frequency parameters of call type 2 lie between 29–47 kHz, have most energy at 38 kHz and have an average duration of 4.1 ms.
- Barbastella barbastellus, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, retrieved on September 1, 2008.
- NTB (22 April 2008). "Hemmelighetskremmeri om «utdødd» flaggermus" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2008-04-22.
- Parsons, S.; Jones, G. (September 2000). "Acoustic identification of twelve species of echolocating bat by discriminant function analysis and artificial neural networks". The Journal of Experimental Biology 203 (Pt 17): 2641–2656. PMID 10934005.
- Obrist, Martin K.; Boesch, Ruedi; Flückiger, Peter F. (2004). "Variability in echolocation call design of 26 Swiss bat species: Consequences, limits and options for automated field identification with a synergetic pattern recognition approach". Mammalia 68 (4): 307–322. doi:10.1515/mamm.2004.030.