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Landscape Conservation for Bats in County Donegal


Brown long-eared bat


Bat Conservation Ireland and the Centre for Irish Bat Research completed a study of ‘Landscape Conservation for Bats in Ireland’ in January 2012. The study highlights the key types of bat habitats, the attributes of suitable habitats, the geographical distribution of individual bat species and provides information for the conservation of landscapes that support this protected wildlife. Nine species of bat occur regularly in Ireland and all are protected by national and European Union legislation.

The study showed that broadleaf woodland, mixed forest and riparian habitats were favourable to bat species in Ireland however bog, marsh and heath were generally not attractive as bat habitats. Throughout the year, bats may use a variety of roosts of different types depending on changing metabolic and social requirements. In late spring, breeding females seek warm areas to minimise the energy cost of maintaining a high body temperature whilst caring for their dependent young. In Ireland, the majority of bat roosts are in buildings.

The study (which is based on 2000-2009 data) found that all species except the rarely recorded Nathusius’ Pipistrelle and the Lesser Horseshoe Bat are found across County Donegal. In terms of their geographical distribution, areas of high occurrence are generally found in the eastern part of the county in the area around Kilmacrennan, Letterkenny and Lifford. Parts of the south are also important particularly around Donegal Town. In descending order of appearance in County Donegal were:

  • Soprano Pipistrelle: may be the most common bat found throughout the county but its areas of greatest occurrence are likely to be found in the north.
  • Daubenton’s Bat: most likely to be found around the margins of the county and around low-lying rivers.
  • Natterer’s Bat: is most abundant in the east and south of the county.
  • Leisler’s Bat: prime areas are mostly in the east and northeast from Dunfanaghy to Portsalon and south to Castlefinn and in the extreme south of the county around Donegal Town and Bundoran.
  • Common Pipistrelle: areas most suitable for the common for this bat include the east of the county, the northern coast and the south of the county.
  • Brown Long-eared Bat: is found in coastal areas around the county as well as the area between Ramelton, Kilmacrennan and Letterkenny.
  • Whiskered Bat: has limited areas of suitability and these are in the Kilmacrennan-Letterkenny area.

On the whole, County Donegal is not particularly suitable for Nathusius’ Pipistrelle bats but some areas of suitability exist along the east of the Inishowen peninsula. Along the River Foyle and in the extreme south of the county near the Donegal-Sligo border.

The study was funded by Bat Conservation Ireland, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and several County Councils in the Republic of Ireland including Donegal County Council under the County Donegal Heritage Plan.

Landscape Conservation for Bats in Ireland: County Donegal (Report)

Landscape Conservation for Irish Bats (Report) 


An Action of the County Donegal Heritage Plan

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