Comprehensive Bat Survey in Israel: Conservation Approach as a Tool to Explore Cryptic Species

Bats constitute the largest mammalian order in Israel, represented by 33 species and distributed in temperate, arid and tropical regions. Current information on Israel's bat communities is based on sporadic past research throughout the 20th century, and annual surveys in the north of Israel. These data were gathered mainly by captures and morphologic identification.

 

In this pioneer work we performed multi-seasonal field survey in a variety of habitats, along the Israeli part of the Great Rift Valley, from Mount Hermon in the north to Eilat in the south. We used mist-netting, acoustic monitoring and tissue sample collection for genetic analysis in order to broaden the knowledge about the taxonomy of the Israeli bats and to find and identify new/cryptic species of bats in Israel.

 

Our survey resulted in documentation of more than 84% of all known insectivorous bat species of Israel (28 of 32 species). Captured bats were all morphologically identified, and echolocation call recordings were identified to species level. No new or unfamiliar species were encountered or recorded.

 

Our findings suggest there are some variances between populations of a few bat species that could represent new/cryptic species. Genetic analysis will be performed on collected tissue samples to provide a definitive answer as to the taxonomic status of suspect species.

Grants