First record of Alcathoe's bat (Myotis alcathoe)

Throughout the world species are becoming extinct before they are ever discovered. Even the knowledge of the distribution of many known species is often fragmentary. Therefore researching the taxonomy and the species distribution is absolutely vital today.

With this in mind, the excitement was great in 2004 when the first finding of Alcathoe's Bat (Myotis alcathoe) in Germany was recorded. This species was long overlooked, since it bore great resemblance to the Whiskered Bat (Myotis mystacinus). It was first discovered in the 1980s in Greece. In 2001 Alcathoe's Bat was registered as a separate species, due to genetic testing methods.

 

Alcathoe's Bat (Myotis alcathoe)

We found Alcathoe's Bat during the development of a bat protection concept for the oak forests in a humid habitat between Kehl and Offenburg, a project commissioned by the Office of Forestry in Kehl. In 2004 we captured a female bat that had none of the typical characteristics of the then-known species. Since we could not label it clearly as any particular species, we began considering if it could be the Alcathoe bat. We repeated our netting research in the following year at the same place. Genetic testing confirmed our suspicion without doubt.

The biology, habitat requirements and specific distribution of this rare species are, for the most part, still unknown. Therefore in 2006 we conducted another survey at the same site to find out more about the occurrence and the living requirements of the Alcathoe bat in our latitudes. A male sub-adult was radio-tagged and led us to a roost in a mature oak. Throughout the remainder of the night, it kept mainly to damp, mature oak forests, underlining the importance of this habitat type for the Alcathoe bat. To continually protect this smallest of all European Myotis species, significantly more research is required.

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