Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 617–631 | Cite as

The trans-boundary importance of artificial bat hibernacula in managed European forests

  • Christian C. VoigtEmail author
  • Linn S. Lehnert
  • Ana G. Popa-Lisseanu
  • Mateusz Ciechanowski
  • Péter Estók
  • Florian Gloza-Rausch
  • Tamás Görföl
  • Matthias Göttsche
  • Carsten Harrje
  • Meike Hötzel
  • Tobias Teige
  • Reiner Wohlgemuth
  • Stephanie Kramer-Schadt
Original Paper


Many European migratory bat species hibernate in large hollow trees, a decreasing resource in present day silviculture. Here, we report on the importance of man-made hibernacula to support trans-boundary populations of noctule bats (Nyctalus noctula), a species that performs seasonal long distance movements throughout Europe. In winter, we surveyed nine bat roosts (eight artificial and one natural) in Germany and collected small tufts of fur from a total of 608 individuals. We then measured the stable isotope ratios of the non-exchangeable hydrogen in fur keratin and estimated the origin of migrants using a refined isoscape origin model that included information on expected flight distances and migration directions. According to the stable isotope signature, 78 % of hibernating bats originated from local populations. The remaining 22 % of hibernacula occupants originated from distant populations, mostly from places in northern or eastern countries such as Sweden, Poland and Baltic countries. Our results confirm that many noctule bats cross one or several political borders during migration. Data on the breeding origin of hibernating noctule bats also suggest that artificial roosts may not only be important for local but also for distant populations. Protection of natural and artificial hibernacula in managed forests may support the trans-boundary populations of migratory bats when hollow trees are scarce in managed forests.


Chiroptera Compensation Conservation Migratory species Isoscape origin model Spatial model GIS 



We would like to Anja Luckner from the IZW Stable Isotope Laboratory for isotope analyses. AGP was supported by a postdoc fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung. The project was approved by the Animal care and ethics committee of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian C. Voigt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Linn S. Lehnert
    • 1
  • Ana G. Popa-Lisseanu
    • 1
  • Mateusz Ciechanowski
    • 2
  • Péter Estók
    • 3
  • Florian Gloza-Rausch
    • 4
  • Tamás Görföl
    • 5
    • 6
  • Matthias Göttsche
    • 7
  • Carsten Harrje
    • 7
  • Meike Hötzel
    • 8
  • Tobias Teige
    • 1
  • Reiner Wohlgemuth
    • 9
  • Stephanie Kramer-Schadt
    • 1
  1. 1.Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife ResearchBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of Vertebrate Ecology and ZoologyUniversity of GdańskGdańskPoland
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyEszterházy Károly CollegeEgerHungary
  4. 4.Noctalis, Fledermauszentrum GmbHBad SegebergGermany
  5. 5.Department of ZoologyHungarian Natural History MuseumBudapestHungary
  6. 6.Institute for Veterinary Medical Research, Centre for Agricultural Research, Hungarian Academy of SciencesBudapestHungary
  7. 7.Faunistisch-Ökologische Arbeitsgemeinshaft, AG WirbeltiereÖkologie-Zentrum Der UniversitätKielGermany
  8. 8.WittenGermany
  9. 9.HolzwickedeGermany

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