The Balkan long-eared bat (Plecotus kolombatovici) occurs in Italy – first confirmed record and potential distribution

L. Ancillotto, E. Mori, L. Bosso, P. Agnelli, D. Russo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In recent years, many cryptic species of bats have been discovered thanks to the application of molecular techniques. The several long-eared bat species (genus Plecotus) occurring in Europe show a marked morphological similarity and occur in sympatry, so that when confusion may arise, molecular approaches have prime importance to establish the actual specific identity. Italy represents a diversity hotspot for bats in Europe, hosting 35 species, among them four Plecotus species. In this study we report on the first confirmed record of the Balkan's long-eared bat Plecotus kolombatovici for peninsular Italy, review previous unconfirmed records and analyse the species’ potential distribution in the country using a modelling approach. The species’ potential distribution is strongly associated with warm summer temperatures and relatively high winter precipitations, typical of Mediterranean climate. The modelling exercise we did highlights that P. kolombatovici may occur in much of the Italian territory, including the Tyrrhenian coast and on many islands that border it. We therefore argue that P. kolombatovici presence has been so far overlooked due to the morphological resemblance of this species with the grey long-eared bat P. austriacus. Comprehensive surveys are needed to ascertain the actual distribution and establish the conservation status in Italy of this poorly known species to adopt effective legal and practical conservation measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-67
Number of pages7
JournalMammalian Biology
Volume96
Early online date28 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

Keywords

  • Chiroptera
  • Italy
  • Plecotus kolombatovici
  • Potential distribution
  • Species distribution models
  • Vespertilionidae

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