The Barbastelle bat (Barbastella barbastellus)

The species chosen as bat of year 2020 is Barbastella barbastellus. The ‘Bat of the Year’ initiative was born out of the need to create awareness about specific species of bat and the threats they face.

This is a threatened species in many European countries and already extinct in Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In Spain, it has been classified as Near Threatened (NT) and is protected by three international conventions as well as national legislation.

It is the only species of the genus Barbastella present in Europe. They emit ultrasound via their mouths and noses and, just like in other forest bats, the duration of their ultrasonic pulses is very short in order to orientate themselves in closed environments full of obstacles. Also, the shape of their spectrogram is very characteristic, in the form of a convex arc.

It is a typical arboreal species which exploits crevices in mature trees and chipped bark to roost in. It is therefore a good indicator of the health of a forest ecosystem, since it has been shown to favour forests with complex landscape structures and well preserved edge structures.

Its diet consists of moths which it hunts close to vegetation, although it also eats flies, beetles and other flying insects.

It is a very sedentary species that barely travels to establish its summer and winter roosts.

The threats it faces throughout Europe are similar and closely linked to deforestation, especially in relation to mature forests and habitat fragmentation. The use of pesticides in forests can also cause mortality by poisoning, as well as reducing the diversity abundance of available insects.

Intensive logging and the resulting lack of mature trees and dead wood reduce the number of natural roosts and as a crevice-dweller the Barbastelle can on many occasions also be seen occupying manmade structures such as tunnels, window shutters or timber. In winter it can also occupy caves or crannies in rocky areas.

Infographics in various languages are available for download from the Batlife Europe website:

Education and Awareness Committee