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Bats: A new identification method on the horizon

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Bats are fully protected by law, so, although their presence rarely halts development work, it can result in lengthy delays if not properly assessed and dealt with.

Bats: A new identification method on the horizon

There are 17 species of bats known to breed in the UK. All bats, their breeding sites and rest spaces are protected by European law. This means it is against the law if bats are deliberately killed, captured or injured, or their sites of breeding and refuge are destroyed or damaged.

Consequently, bats can only be moved or handled by the licensed ecologists who may be involved in surveying roosts and or in mitigation measures during planning or construction activities. Bat surveys looking for species presence or absence and making population estimates are vital for development activities. Identifying the bat species that may be present is difficult. Conclusive identification is often only possible by catching or trapping the animals. However, speciation is also possible from molecular analysis of the DNA in droppings collected from areas where bats are found.

ADAS is currently developing tests based on sequencing a specific DNA sequence that can be detected in bat droppings. This information is then compared with a reference database containing DNA sequence information from all 17 species of bat and thus enables which bat species the droppings originated from to be determined. ADAS anticipates launching this as a commercial service to run alongside its GCN eDNA analysis service in 2018.

For more information, please contact Sam Lowe: sam.lowe@adas.co.uk

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