Naming Bats Bat Atlas Churches Boxes Hibernacula



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Naming Bats

As the interest for bats has increased in Norway, there has also been an in­creas­ing need to revise and systemize the Norwegian bat names. Bats include 17 fami­lies, 177 genus’ and 1001 species world wide.
      Our work is an effort to establish criteria to be used whenever bats are given Norwegian names. Such criteria include lingual history, grammar, pre­vious used names and systematics. General principals in Norwegian lingual work is applied.
      The objective of our work is to recommend official Norwegian names to be used by publishers and authors. The following species and groups are to be named:

  • All families
  • Large and important groups/genus
  • All species previously mentioned in the Norwegian media
  • All European species
  • All species found accidental in Europe

Target group

  • Important books (dictionaries and school books)
  • Media (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines)
  • Management (Directorate for Nature Management, Department of the Environment, counties, municipalities)
  • Scientists (researchers, museums, universities, hobbyists)

 Our project include the revision of all published reports, books, booklets and multimedia CD-rom where Norwegian bat names have been used.



Norwegian Bat Atlas

A national bat atlas was initiated in 1992. The original objective was to visit all 50x50 km atlas squares in South-Norway. The Norwegian Bat Atlas is a nation-wide project, originally organized by Nordre Øyeren Biological Station (NØBI), and later taken over by NIFF. The project is coordinated by NIFF’s office manager. Regional contacts are the same as for the organization in general.
      The projects primary objective is to obtain new knowledge on the distribution of bats in Norway. Few observations have been published, and the largest single institution which hold historic bat observations, the Zoological Museum of Oslo, do not allow external scientists to have access to their collections (Øystein Wiig, pers. com.).

The Norwegian Bat Atlas Project wishes to:

  • map the distribution of all our bat species.
  • activate our members in a project which everyone may participate in.
  • collect data for the European Mammal Atlas EMMA.

There are many ways of mapping a species distribution. During recent years a number of atlas projects have been carried out both in Norway and abroad. These include projects on plants, insects, amphibians and birds. As of yet, only the Netherlands, England and Denmark have finalized bat atlas projects. Our work in Norway has so far been carried out county wise. Thus, a number of counties have been mapped using 10x10 km UTM squares.
      Not only presence of species is recorded. Also information on their abundance is included. Such information in­cludes maternity roosts, other summer colonies, territorial males[1], density of foraging individuals and number of observations. Also hibernacula is included.
      The EMMA projects’ European mammal atlas and the Norwegian Bat Atlas must not be confused with the Norwegian Zoological Society’s (NZF) “mammal atlas” which they copied after our project was initiated. NZF originally had no official status in the international EMMA project.

Map symbol criteria
The EMMA project distinguishes between observations made before and after 1970. Older observations will be included in separate maps, or have separate symbols.
      Importantly, symbols will be simple and understandable. The larger the symbol, the more abundant the species. All symbols are ranked after darkness and size. Thus, making a black symbol stronger information than a grey, and a large symbol stronger than a small.
      Most symbols will be equal for all species. However, some adjustments are made depending on the species ecology (e.g. display flight criteria in V. murinus).
      Updated maps may be obtained for counties or regions for people who contribute information to the project. Such maps include unpublished material and should not be distributed to a third party. People who have not obtained an F, H or V certificate (see page 4) need to include a detailed description of his observation before the species identification might be accepted.
          Separate maps are being constructed for field work coverage and species diversity by a 10x10 km square resolution. These maps will have a separate set of symbols.

[1]Only for Nyctalus noctula, Vespertilio murinus, Pipistrellus pipistrellus, P. pygmaeus and P. nathusii.



Bats in Churches

Churches usually pro­vide an old and stable element in the landscape in which the bats may live without distur­ban­ces. Usually churches are placed open in the landscape, allowing it to be heated by sun exposure. This is important for the bats. The church yard usually consists of a varied park landscape favourable to bats both for foraging and roosting.
      Nordre Øyeren Biologiske Stasjon (NØBI) initiated in 1995 a national project to survey bats in churches. Earlier publications were checked, and an enquiry was sent to all churches in South-Norway.
      In addition all churches in Østfold, Akershus, Oslo, Vestfold, Sør- and Nord-Trøndelag are checked for live bats or traces of them. Over 400 churches exist in these areas, and the project will continue for several years.
      Some churches inhabited by bats are revisited for several years for monitoring purposes.

We are trying to map all factors that may effect the presence of bats in the loft or belfry. These are elements that might influence the temperature or light.

The projects objectives are to:

Internasjonal work
A working group on Bats in Sacral Architecture was established during the 8th European Bat Research Symposium in Kraków. The group was established at a meeting on 25 August 1999. The main objective of the group is to update the members on work being carried out in their respective countries. An internal newsletter Templum Chiropterarum is distributed irregularly. At the meeting 21 persons from 8 countries participated. Today the group consists of 37 members from 17 countries. The work is organized by NIFF.

The project is carried out by Church Advisor* (The advisor in church buildings for The Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs), and in coordination with the project Church heating – environmental correct and energy efficient* which is organized among others by the Norwegian Church Council*. The Church Employer organization* (KA) also support the project.
      The caretakers of many churches have become members of NIFF and are contributing valuable information to the project.

The project has its own web site:



Bat Boxes

NIFF’s first bat box project was in Rogaland Arboretum. During the summer of 1998, 36 boxes were hung up in 12 trees. Since, several projects have been started in Scandinavia.
Objectives, type of box and number of boxes vary between the projects. In general it is difficult to get Scandinavian bats in boxes, so often a number of boxes are required for good results. A number of models exist, and type has it’s advantages. Which region of Scandinavia the boxes are located also decides the success.
      For instance Pipistellus males use wooden boxes during fall. Each box may consist of a harem, including one male and 6-7 females. However, in the area north and east of Oslo, the males migrate before they start mating. The possibility of getting these bats in boxes is therefore quite small in this region. In general, boxes are used by single males, harems, or colonies. Terrain, location on tree (or building) and distance to favourable foraging habitats are all factors which might decide weather a box might be occupied.

We also try different bat box models, such as the American maternity box (below). Self constructed concrete boxes are also being used.
      The interest for bat boxes has increased significantly during recent years. Several private persons and schools have started their own projects.

      As of yet, NIFF have bat box projects in the following areas:

  • Rogaland Arboret (Rogaland)
  • Mosvatnet (Rogaland)
  • Lille Stokkavatnet (Rogaland)
  • Flekkefjord (Vest-Agder)
  • Skøyen (Oslo)
  • Østensjøvannet (Oslo)
  • Leira (Akershus)
  • Øyeren-deltaet (Akershus)
  • Almedalen (Skåne)
  • Tversted (Nord-Jylland)
  • Rold Skov (Nord-Jylland)
  • Nyborg (Fyn)
  • Vamdrup-Vojens (Sønnerjylland)

Several new projects are being planned, and material for new boxes have been sponsored.



Surveying Hibernacula

Although some bat species do migrate, most remain in Norway. The bats use cool areas with high humidity for hibernation. Such localities are caves, mines, bunkers, fortress’ cellars, wells among others. Some species do hibernate in buildings, usually uninhabited locations such as cabins or churches.
Little is known on where bats actually hibernate in the Nordic countries. Most known localities contain few individuals. An exception apply for the lime stone mines in Denmark and a building in Forsand (Rogaland, Nor­way) where 3.000 Pipistrellus sp. appeared in December 1985. This area has favour­able temperatures during winter, and more recent observations suggest that this area might be important for hibernating Pipistrellus sp. from larger areas of Norway.

The Wintergroup*
NIFF is constantly surveying potential hibernation sites. Some localities are also monitored annually. Most of the localities are found by searching the terrain, contacting locals, or search older literature where mines are mentioned. Some reports are received from people who have bats in their houses during winter. To find evidence for bats hibernating in buildings is diffi­cult, and observations made by the public must therefore be confirmed by a visit from NIFF.
      The Wintergroup* is a working group actively searching for localities with hiber­nating bats. A list of its members is always updated on our web pages.  

Safety has a high priority when mines, caves and old cellars are visited. Many localities are not secured for visits. Old, often decaying constructions without any maintenance, make these localities dangerous if certain security measures are not taken. Most localities are also privately owned, and a permission to visit must be obtained. Many localities are also secured and locked. Mines in which their surroundings have been secured are managed by the Norwegian Mine Authority* in Trondhjem. When visiting unknown mines it is important to obtain as much information as possible before visiting. Whenever we find someone who is familiar with the mine, we use him as a guide.
      Training and correct equipment is important for the Wintergroup*. The members of the group are hand picked, and need to fulfil a training program.

All new members must fulfil an initiation trip at the emerald mines at Byrud in Minnesund. The intention with this trip is to expose new members to the conditions that usually exist in mines. At this locality they are exposed to:

  • small and large mines
  • mines in several levels
  • mines full of water
  • water lock
  • mines seemingly in different levels of difficulty

  The Wintergroup* also need training in identifying 10 species of bats, in which might occur in the mines. Furthermore, the following topics are included in their training:

  • Safety in mines
  • First Aid
  • The use of rope for climbing
  • Law and other rules
  • Disturbances of bats
  • Words used in mining and caving

Huleboer'n (The Cave Dweller*)
This our internal newsletter. It updates the members on practical issues such as activities, courses, trips etc. It also summarizes the results of each season.

What are the data needed for?
NIFF has established a database called BatBase in which all potential hiber­nacula have been included. So far the database include over 1000 localities. These might by caves, mines, tunnels, bunkers, fortress’, cellars, churches, villas, faults or electro power plants.
      All information that continuously is added to BatBase is a contribution to the increased understanding of bats’ requirements for hibernacula. Important hibernacula are monitored each year. The data is included in the Norwegian Mammal Atlas, thus a contribution to our knowledge on the bats’ distribution. All municipalities are required to update their wildlife maps on a regular basis. Data from BatBase may also be used for this.





Last updated 26 January 2019