Conservation aimed inventory of the Mediterranean horseshoe bat Rhinolophus euryale effectives in South-Western Romania, 2009-2010

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The project was conducted by Romanian Bat Protection Association between December 2009 and November 2010, funded by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Direction des Eaux et Forêts, Service de la Conservation de la Nature).

Rhinolophus euryale is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and featuring in Annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive. Also it is one of the three EUROBATS priority species for autecological studies (Doc.EUROBATS.AC13.9.Rev.1).

Based on preliminary data this species is one of the most problematic bat species in Romania from the conservation point of view, due to the fact that in the last five decades, an important part of their known cave-dwelling colonies has disappeared. The main reasons of the decline are probably the disturbance of underground roosts due to uncontrolled speological activities, tourism and modification of the habitat structure.

Romanian distribution of the species covers the South-Western part of the country, a region with extensive carst areas and many important underground sites, still housing important colonies of the Mediterranean horseshoe bat. The goal of the present project was to contribute to the achievement of a favourable conservation status for Romanian Rh. euryale populations.

During the hibernation period 39 caves were checked in the project implementation area and also 42 underground roosts during summer. A total of 28 sites were used as roosts in different periods of the year by Rh. euryale specimens. Beside this, more than 50 overground shelters were checked, but no important colonies of the species were discovered in buildings. The field work made during the project supplies an important data set about the actual Romanian distribution and status of the species, data which could be an important support for the conservation of the species.