Movement ecology of common noctule bats in anthropogenic landscapes

The research of this project is dedicated to the questions of how highly mobile species such as the common noctule bat (Nyctalus noctula) survive in intensively used farmland or in city landscapes and which factors influence individual behaviour and local populations.

Project details
Duration: since 05/2012
Third-party funded: yes
Involved Department(s): Dept Evolutionary Ecology, Dept Evolutionary GeneticsDept Ecological Dynamics
Leibniz-IZW Project Leader(s): Christian Voigt (Dept Evolutionary Ecology)
Leibniz-IZW Project Team: Kseniia Kravchenko, Calvin Mehl, Linn Lehnert, Shannon Currie, Christine Reusch (all: Dept Evolutionary Ecology), Camila Mazzoni (Dept Evolutionary Genetics), Viktoriia Radchuk, Stephanie Kramer-Schadt (all: Dept Ecological Dynamics)
Consortium Partner(s): Ulrike Schlägel, Manuel Röleke (Universität Potsdam), Uwe Hoffmeister, Tobias Teige, Torsten Blohm (expert’s offices, Berlin and Brandenburg)
Current Funding Organisation: German Science Foundation (DFG, Biomove Research Training Group), Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt, Alexander-von-Humboldt-Stiftung
Research Foci: Understanding traits and evolutionary adaptations
Understanding the environmental context
Improving population viability


Many European bats are endangered and all are legally protected because of drastic population collapses about 60 years ago, which were caused by the overuse of toxic pesticides. Currently, populations of many bat species are recovering, yet some continue to decline. The common noctule bat (Nyctalus noctula) is one such species with recently reported population declines, yet the underlying causes are not fully understood.

In 2012, we launched the common noctule bat project to shed light on the conservation status of this species, and the factors relevant for its continued decline. To achieve this, we have established several study colonies across Berlin and Brandenburg to obtain detailed insights into the temporal and spatial behaviour of tagged individuals, particularly in relation to anthropogenic factors such as land use changes, wind turbines and climate change. To delineate the impact of these factors on common noctule bats, we use a combination of field studies, experiments under controlled conditions and modelling approaches. Movement path dynamics are investigated by the Department of Ecological Dynamics. Dietary analysis via meta-barcoding is done in the group of Camila Mazzoni (Department Evolutionary Genetics).

Conservation related findings are communicated to corresponding stakeholders and the general public by organizing workshops and conferences. Additionally, we publish relevant management guidelines (Voigt et al. 2018, 2019) for the protection of bats.

Our studies on the spatiotemporal behaviour of bats are embedded in the DFG Research Training Group Biomove and the Berlin-Brandenburg Center of Advanced Biodiversity Research (BBIB).

Selected Publications

Voigt CC, Azam C, Dekker J, Ferguson J, Fritze M, Gazaryan S, Hölker F, Jones G, Leader N, Lewanzik D, Limpens HJGA, Mathews F, Rydell J, Schofield H, Spoelstra H, Spoelstra K, Zagmajster M (2018): Leitfaden für die Berücksichtigung von Fledermäusen bei Beleuchtungsprojekten. UNEP/EUROBATS publication series #8.

Voigt CC, Scholl J, Bauer J, Teige T, Yovel Y, Kramer-Schadt S, Gras P (2020): Movement responses of common noctule bats to the illuminated urban landscape. LANDSCAPE ECOL 35, 189-201. doi:10.1007/s10980-019-00942-4.

Lehnert LS, Kramer-Schadt S, Teige T, Hoffmeister U, Popa-Lisseanu A, Bontadina F, Ciechanowski M, Dechmann DKN, Kravchenko K, Presetnik P, Starrach M, Straube M, Zoephel U, Voigt CC (2018): Variability and repeatability of noctule bat migration in Central Europe: evidence for partial and differential migration. PROC ROY SOC B – BIOL SCI 285, 20182174.

Roeleke M, Teige T, Hoffmeister U, Klingler F, Voigt CC (2018): Aerial-hawking bats adjust their use of space to the lunar cycle. MOV ECOL 6, 11.

Roeleke M, Blohm T, Kramer-Schadt S, Yovel Y, Voigt CC (2016): Habitat use of bats in relation to wind turbines revealed by GPS tracking. SCI REP 6, 28961.