'Citizen scientists' needed for North Yorkshire project to learn more about rare bat

Wildlife enthusiasts across North Yorkshire are being given the chance to take part in a project about a rare bat.

By Sue Wilkinson
Thursday, 11th June 2020, 4:45 pm
Alcathoe bat
Alcathoe bat

Very little is known about one of Britain’s rarest mammals the Alcathoe bat, after it was first ‘discovered’ in the country 10 years ago, but thanks to the support of energy bar brand, CLIF, conservationists from the North York Moors National Park Authority are looking to change that.

The tiny bat, very similar to the Whiskered and Brandt's bats, was only confirmed as a separate species in Europe in 2001 following genetic analysis. It was then ‘discovered’ in the UK in 2010 but is thought to have existed here much longer.

Thanks to a £10,000 grant from CLIF, the Authority’s Ryevitalise team is soon to embark on a citizen science project to capture peoples’ interest and develop a deeper understanding of how Alcathoe bats and other species use the habitats, particularly veteran and ancient trees, in and around the project area. This knowledge will help the team to enhance and protect the special area of the Rye catchment now and for future generations.

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Alexandra Cripps, Ryevitalise programme manager, said: “This is a huge boost for our Small and Tall; the Rye’s Bats and Ancient Trees project. Thanks to CLIF and the ‘National Parks Protectors’ partnership we will be able to engage with the community and partners to collect vital information we need to inform habitat management practices, enhancing and protecting bat populations and other wildlife in the area for future generations.

“We cannot wait to get the project started as volunteers will play a key role in what will be an ambitious landscape scale Citizen Science project. So little is known about the Alcathoe bat that it is currently considered 'Data Deficient' on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. We really want to change that and help other bat populations within River Rye catchment area thrive.”

David Smith, senior marketing manager at Clif Bar Europe, said: “At CLIF, we are purpose-led and are committed to sustaining our people, community, planet, brands and business. Last year we brought these values to the UK with the National Parks partnership and are tremendously proud of what we have achieved. We are confident that the additional projects, supported through the UK National Parks Protectors Fund, will help ensure that these outstanding landscapes are available for generations to visit and enjoy.”

Volunteers, or citizen scientists, will be trained to deploy wildlife acoustic detectors in assigned 1km squares for four consecutive nights before collecting the equipment and sending the data off to be analysed. The project will engage local wildlife enthusiasts, land managers and river users and is an exciting volunteering opportunity for anyone wishing to learn more about the natural heritage of the area. If you would like to get involved please contact [email protected]mailto:[email protected]