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Differential responses of cryptic bat species to the urban landscape

Lintott, Paul R.; Park, Kirsty J.; Lintott, Paul; Barlow, Kate; Bunnefeld, Nils; Briggs, Philip; Park, Kirsty; Gajas Roig, Clara


Paul R. Lintott

Kirsty J. Park

Paul Lintott
Lecturer in Conservation Science

Kate Barlow

Nils Bunnefeld

Philip Briggs

Kirsty Park

Clara Gajas Roig


© 2016 Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Urbanization is a key global driver in the modification of land use and has been linked to population declines even in widespread and relatively common species. Cities comprise a complex assortment of habitat types yet we know relatively little about the effects of their composition and spatial configuration on species distribution. Although many bat species exploit human resources, the majority of species are negatively impacted by urbanization. Here, we use data from the National Bat Monitoring Programme, a long-running citizen science scheme, to assess how two cryptic European bat species respond to the urban landscape. A total of 124 × 1 km2 sites throughout Britain were surveyed. The landscape surrounding each site was mapped and classified into discrete biotope types (e.g., woodland). Generalized linear models were used to assess differences in the response to the urban environment between the two species, and which landscape factors were associated with the distributions of P. pipistrellus and P. pygmaeus. The relative prevalence of P. pygmaeus compared to P. pipistrellus was greater in urban landscapes with a higher density of rivers and lakes, whereas P. pipistrellus was frequently detected in landscapes comprising a high proportion of green space (e.g., parklands). Although P. pipistrellus is thought to be well adapted to the urban landscape, we found a strong negative response to urbanization at a relatively local scale (1 km), whilst P. pygmaeus was detected more regularly in wooded urban landscapes containing freshwater. These results show differential habitat use at a landscape scale of two morphologically similar species, indicating that cryptic species may respond differently to anthropogenic disturbance. Even species considered relatively common and well adapted to the urban landscape may respond negatively to the built environment highlighting the future challenges involved in maintaining biodiversity within an increasingly urbanized world.


Park, K. J., Lintott, P. R., Lintott, P., Barlow, K., Bunnefeld, N., Briggs, P., …Park, K. (2016). Differential responses of cryptic bat species to the urban landscape. Ecology and Evolution, 6(7), 2044-2052.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 19, 2015
Online Publication Date Feb 26, 2016
Publication Date Apr 1, 2016
Deposit Date Nov 10, 2017
Journal Ecology and Evolution
Electronic ISSN 2045-7758
Publisher Wiley Open Access
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Issue 7
Pages 2044-2052
Keywords bats, conservation, cryptic species, land use, population trends, urban ecology
Public URL
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