Finished projects

Monitoring of bats in Plitvice Lakes National Park

Dinaric karst is rich in various subterranean habitats and is a center of endemism and biodiversity, and at the same time, it is one of the most threatened habitats on Earth. In Croatia, karst covers more than 50% of the territory. It is estimated that there are around 9,000 caves in Croatia. However, bigger bat colonies are found only in about 50 of them. The number of important underground habitats for bats is likely to be higher, but large parts of Dinaric karst are still not explored.

Due to their specific lifestyle, bats are considered to be good bioindicators of the environment. European bats that feed mainly on insects can reflect the influence of pesticides, species that use trees for roosting reflect a healthy status of forests, and due to their specific microclimatic requirements, bats can reflect the influence of climate change.

In many countries in Europe, bats are monitored regularly in underground habitats according to pre-set protocols in order to follow their population trends during summer, winter, or migration period. In Croatia, all bat species are protected by law and their trend should also be followed. From 2015 onwards, CBSS is monitoring bat cave species and their numbers in Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of the richest parks in Croatia in bat species.

Monitoring is conducted in 4 selected caves and one above-ground facility, in various seasons according to the presence of maternity or migratory colonies and hibernating individuals. With the long-term monitoring of bat species and their population trends within the Plitvice Lakes National Park, we can have a better overview of their dynamics and potential threats and environmental changes that could threaten them.