The last phase of the study on bat activity in relation to light pollution in Prespa villages was completed in 2020 with the second autumn visit of Dr. Marcel Uhrin, biologist-bat expert from Pavol University Jozef Šafárik in Košice, Slovakia and his research team. The final report of Dr. Uhrin entitled “Study on bat activity and light pollution in the Prespa basin” was delivered to the Society for the Protection of Prespa in mid-November 2020. Dr. Uhrin studied the activity of bats in the area of Prespa with an emphasis on their activity within the settlements, while the report he prepared includes guidelines for the technical characteristics of lighting infrastructure and lamps with a view to reducing the negative effect of artificial lighting on bats.
Bats are nocturnal animals, the only mammals capable of flight and their role of bats in the ecosystems functioning is crucial (e.g., control of insect populations), while they can be effective indicators of the health of an ecosystem. Bats have adapted to a life in darkness, partly to avoid predation during daylight hours from birds of prey species such as hawks. Therefore, the artificial lighting of bat roosts, access points and foraging pathways can be extremely disturbing to bats and can cause many problems by delaying or preventing emergence from roosts, resulting in reduced foraging time and missing the peak time of insect abundance (just after dusk) and should be avoided or adapted to more bat-friendly solutions in urban zones. For example, luminaires should be replaced with others which prevent light diffusion towards the sky and direct light only in downwards direction.
The Society for the Protection of Prespa since its establishment in 1991 supports and collaborates with Greek and foreign researchers – experts in bats, contributing to the enrichment of the species list of Prespa. To date, 26 species of bat species have been recorded in the transboundary Prespa, which is the highest bat diversity in Greece and 65% of all bat species in Europe. The findings from this long-term bat research highlight the importance of Prespa for wildlife, and especially bats, both in terms of habitats quality and populations and support their effective conservation and management. In this context, the Society for the Protection of Prespa completed in 2011 the Conservation Action Plan for the Bats of Prespa, which includes all available information about bats in the transboundary Prespa, providing specific conservation recommendations.
Olga Alexandrou, Research & Protection Sector, Society for the Protection of Prespa
The NET METERING project is co-funded by the European Union and by National Funds of the participating countries