A few years ago, Geoff and I decided to run Greena Ecological Consultancy research trips as we thought it would be a good idea to take some British bat workers to Europe to conduct some pure research and give something back to the bats. Greena Ecological Consultancy have taken a number of groups to Europe in the last few years, making trips to France where we worked in association with Marie Jo Dubourg-Savage in the Ariege department, and then followed that with trips to various areas within the Lot region. We then led two trips to Crete in consecutive years and worked with Panagiotis Georgiakakis, capturing 12 of the 17 species previously recorded on the island. We hoped that the British bat workers would gain something by learning handling skills and setting up mist nets and harp traps and seeing some wonderful European species and we hoped that that the European bat workers would benefit by having a group of UK bat workers coming in to “blitz” an area in short time to discover the bat populations, so it seemed to be a win-win situation – and the bats themselves would benefit by being “discovered” and therefore preserved and conserved.
Recent developments using DNA sampling has meant that some of the in-hand ID can be verified and this has proved to be a crucial tool with the cryptic species that are cropping up in so many locations. It is also a good idea to build up a database of bat DNA samples for future reference.
Greena Ecological provides the majority of equipment for the research, transporting single, double, triple high, quad high mist net sets, plus we take harp traps and acoustic lures, handling and measuring equipment, ID guides and of course, and various types of bat detectors computers for sound analysis. Some of the particpants also bring their own equipment to use too and most bring their own bat detectors and computers.
During June 2013 we led a trip to Kefalonia and worked with Elena Papadatou and the Greek Park Rangers. We made a repeat trip to Kefalonia in October 2013 as, like many of the Greek islands, there had been almost no bat research previously carried out on this island. The 15 species we identified there in hand were previously not confirmed as being present on Kefalonia – so these relatively small research efforts were clearly making a good start in discovering exactly which bats are present in various parts of Greece. In June 2014 we led a trip to Rhodes and caught a good range of bat species, though in smaller numbers than previously found on Crete and Kefalonia, possibly due to a higher tourism footprint for development and related lighting. In 2014 and 2015 we also led trips to Ikaria, Chios, and Kos, which again proved interesting and varied in diversity of species and numbers found. During 2016 we visited two new islands, Andros and Lesvos, with a second trip to Lesvos made in June 2017, followed by Naxos in October 2017, then radio a tracking trip to Lesvos May 2018 and Lefkada June 2018.
The findings so far from the GreenaEco Research Trips to the Greek islands, – work done in collaboration with Panagiotis Georgiokakis and Eleni Papadatou – will be written up into a scientific paper which will be published.
Please note: the bat research trips we organise are not “bat tourism” – they are always unpredictable and we cannot guarantee that every trip we make will lead to us capturing specific species or high numbers of bats! Our trips are designed to discover bat species in the chosen islands or areas, with the aim to provide sets of data, including DNA samples and sound recordings, for future reference and for baseline assessments. Having said that these trips are still excellent means to increase bat handling skills and recording and sound analysis experience, as there will be many opportunities to learn how to correctly handle bats when caught and make sound recordings of released bats.
Airlines are increasingly anxious about weight restrictions on baggage, and the costs of transporting the equipment (loosely described by us as “sport bags” for the airlines benefit) is sadly making the overall cost of the trip increase dramatically. Please do be aware that Greenaeco do not run these research trips as a profit making exercise. The costs to the participants are to cover all of their food, accommodation and transport costs (hire cars and fuel are provided) plus it has to cover the cost of transporting all the somewhat heavy “sports bags”!
Places are limited, as we have found that the smaller group logistics work the best.
There is always a charge for UK bat workers attending these research sessions but there is no charge for European bat workers who are not working on bats in UK. This is to reflect the difficulties experienced by European bat workers find when trying to get any training and the fact that most of the bat work is carried out on a voluntary basis.
If you are interested in being considered for the next Greenaeco Research trip, 12th – 20th October 2018 to Lemnos please contact Geoff by email via the contact form below, by mobile: 077487 42475, or in the office: 01749 850993.
The research trips are NOT BAT TOURISM – there are NO guarantees about what species we will find on any of our research trips, but whatever we find will be new records for the Greek Islands. We work in partnership with Panagiotis Georgiokakis or Eleni Papadatou and all records are shared the these two Greek Bat workers in order to ensure that baseline assessments are in place prior to the inevitable development of the Greek Islands for tourism in the future.
This is actually cutting edge European bat research data gathering, as most of the islands we visit have not had any research (or very little) conducted for bats since the 1960s!