Ecosulis
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Posted by: James Tristram BSc (Hons) on 30/11/2011

Ecosulis is working in collaboration with the University of Warwick to provide timely and reliable species identification of bat droppings using DNA analysis. Prior to using DNA analysis, ecologists relied upon dropping size, colour, shape and structure to determine the species. This method is not 100% reliable, as multiple bats species may use the same resting place and environmental influences (such as humidity and rain) may distort or destroy samples. DNA analysis overcomes these issues and can provide reliable identification of species from mixed and damaged samples.

DNA analysis of bat droppings can be particularly useful for bat habitat suitability assessments of buildings carried out during the winter, allowing accurate identification of species using a roost in the absence of emergence or dawn surveys.  If bat droppings are found within a roost which provides unsuitable conditions as a hibernation or maternity roost then, in theory, it would possible for a European Protected Species Licence to be issued by statutory bodies (such as Natural England and the Welsh Assembly) without the need for further emergence and dawn surveys, which generally need to be carried out within the optimum survey period of May-August.

The benefits of being able to obtain a licence from an initial bat habitat suitability assessment to commencement of works without having to wait until further surveys can be completed could be large for a number of projects.  There could also be significant cost savings.  

At the time of writing we are unaware of any licence to be issued in this way, but if you have a site that you are keen to try and obtain a bat licence for prior to May 2012 based on a bat habitat suitability assessment and survey only then we would be happy to discuss this approach with you further.


Categories: Ecological Consulting
Tags: bat licence | bat mitigation | bat surveys | Bats | DNA analysis | Winter surveys
2 comments » Comments
Hannah Maben 11/01/2012 Thanks for your comments Stan. Activity surveys would certainly be the only way of determining the number of bats using a roost, but in some instances the other evidence present may be enough to give a good indication of numbers and be sufficient for a licence application. E.g. if there are only one or two droppings along with some feeding remains within a building lacking in cracks or crevices (that may hide further evidence) and free from disturbance, then would activity surveys really be necesary just to confirm a low number of bats? Indeed there are a number of factors to considered and in most cases activity surveys are likely to be required. However, in our experience it is rare that activity surveys of buildings (where low evidence of bat usage is recorded) that offer suitability as nothing more than a feeding-roost result in changes to our original assessment of the roost status following an initial habitat suitablity assessment, survey and DNA analysis.
Stan Irwin 10/01/2012 James, whilst I would agree with your comments to some extent I would disagree in relation to DNA samples being accepted as a stand alone solution for the granting of EPSML. As you are aware NE require numbers as well as species to be ascertained in order to assess if the mitigation is suitable. The DNA route is useful in circumstances whereby emergence surveys find that bats are not using the roost over a particular breeding season & rather than have to wait for another breeding season DNA could be used with an assessment of numbers by the bat ecologist for the application. Regards Stan Irwin
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Thanks for your comments

Thanks for your comments Stan. Activity surveys would certainly be the only way of determining the number of bats using a roost, but in some instances the other evidence present may be enough to give a good indication of numbers and be sufficient for a licence application. E.g. if there are only one or two droppings along with some feeding remains within a building lacking in cracks or crevices (that may hide further evidence) and free from disturbance, then would activity surveys really be necesary just to confirm a low number of bats? Indeed there are a number of factors to considered and in most cases activity surveys are likely to be required. However, in our experience it is rare that activity surveys of buildings (where low evidence of bat usage is recorded) that offer suitability as nothing more than a feeding-roost result in changes to our original assessment of the roost status following an initial habitat suitablity assessment, survey and DNA analysis.

James, whilst I would agree

James, whilst I would agree with your comments to some extent I would disagree in relation to DNA samples being accepted as a stand alone solution for the granting of EPSML. As you are aware NE require numbers as well as species to be ascertained in order to assess if the mitigation is suitable. The DNA route is useful in circumstances whereby emergence surveys find that bats are not using the roost over a particular breeding season & rather than have to wait for another breeding season DNA could be used with an assessment of numbers by the bat ecologist for the application.

Regards

Stan Irwin

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