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Derbyshire Underground Sites Project;
Phase II

Background to Project

Derbyshire Bat Conservation Group has been conducting underground surveys for bat species within the county for over 10 years (see our bats in Derbyshire caves page). Early work consisted largely of hibernation surveys - this work is now known as Phase I of the project and continues to this day.

These underground sites include both natural and man-made structures and in 2013 a pilot survey was undertaken to search for evidence of autumn swarming. Following that survey we decided to move the Derbyshire Underground Sites Project into a new phase - Phase II. As such, we submitted a project licence application to Natural England to enable a core team within the bat group to undertake trapping in the bat autumn swarming season and we are delighted that the licence has been granted.

The project has three main aims. These are:

  • To establish the presence of Alcathoe’s bat within the county of Derbyshire and the Peak District.
  • To establish the species of bats swarming at underground sites within the county of Derbyshire and the Peak District (both at known hibernations sites and previously un-surveyed systems).
  • To establish the numbers of bats swarming at underground sites within the above areas. If Alcathoe’s bat is found to be present, the study will establish which underground sites this species uses for swarming and hibernation.
  • Bat surveyors in Peak District caves

    The trapping consists of methods approved by Natural England and the Bat Conservation Trust, the latter of which we are a partnership group. Licence holders and accredited agents will use harp traps and mist nets at the entrances to selected underground sites which bats may use for swarming within the county of Derbyshire. Any bats caught will be identified to species level and biometric information, such as sex and age, will be taken.

    At least 5 species of bat make use of underground sites during the winter hibernation period in Derbyshire. Part of the project aim is to establish the presence of Alcathoe's bat within the county (as yet unconfirmed). Recent discoveries by Leeds University have found this new species of bat Myotis alcathoe residing in the UK in Yorkshire and Sussex. This species is very similar to Brandt's and whiskered bat (both present within Derbyshire) and it is not possible to identify this species by visual identification methods. All bats are released unharmed following capture and processing at the site.

    Survey results following the trapping each year have been made available to other UK bat researchers to aid in future research work. Records are also entered into the DBCG records database, a unique conservation resource for Derbyshire's bats.

    Got questions regarding this project? Get in touch with us.

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