Distribution and over-winter sites

southern bent-wing bats roost in caves across south-eastern South Australia and south-western Victoria. The majority of the Naracoorte population spend the summer months in Bat Cave. But where do they spend winter? This is less well-known, but we do know from a 1999 community survey across the south-east that they visit at least 48 caves. However, this survey only tracked approximately 16,000 bats, a small portion of the breeding population! Similar surveys were repeated in 2009, 2010 and 2012, finding that only some of the 48 sites form key over-wintering sites.

As well as helping to pin-point over-wintering sites for the bats, other significant conservation outcomes were achieved as result of the surveys. Additional information gathered during surveys included:

  • Photographs of the entrances of over-wintering caves.
  • Evidence of feral animals. Cats were found to be predators of bats in caves.
  • Evidence of people using caves, and
  • Presence or absence of guano and whether this was fresh or old, determined by white fungus that grows on old fungus.

This information became the basis of classifying which caves are priority sites for on-ground protection and restoration activities. Conservation works have been completed in seven wintering caves with the help of community volunteers and local landowners.

Further reading

Dwyer, P.D. 1969. Population ranges of Miniopterus schreibersii (Chiroptera) in south-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology 17, 665–686.

Mott, K. and Aslin, F. 2000. Distribution of Miniopterus schreibersii in wintering sites throughout the south east of South Australia. Project 7/82. National Parks Foundation of SA.

Lear, K. 2012. July 2012 Southern Bent-wing Bat (Miniopterus schreibersii bassanii) winter survey report. Unpublished report.