Bulgaria is a hot spot of bat diversity because from 35 European species 33 species are present in the country. Bats play an important role within the different ecosystems and theoretically could be divided into two main groups according to their habitat preferences: cave dwelling and forest dwelling bats.
During the winter both groups fall into hibernation or very deep sleep which helps to passed this unfavourable period. Caves are important shelter for cave dwelling bat species, especially for Rhinolophus ferrumequinum (Greater horseshoe bat). During the winter period some of the caves are used as hibernation places and they are close for visitors.
Because of the unique anatomy, physiology and morphology bats are object of different scientific researches. That’s why during the first weekend of April, Bulgarian-Czech research collaboration was provided at Lepenitsa cave, Rakitovo. Leaders of the research were prof. Jiri Pikula and doc. Jan Zukal from University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Masaryk Universities in Brno, Czech Republic. Bulgarian participants were Heliana Dundarova, PhD student and assistant professor in the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Vanyo Gyorev and Stoicho Zarev speleologists from Bulgarian Caving Society and last but not least Ladislav Tsvetkov reporter from BTV.
The research was organized and accomplished by Bulgarian Caving Society and Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. During the research period close to the Lepenitsa cave a field laboratory was built. 27 individuals from the species Rhinolophus ferrumequinum (Greater horseshoe bat) were analysed and released into the cave. Conducted research included measurement of every individual followed by blood sampling, taking swabs from fur, for analysis and identification of external and internal parasites.
The observations and analyzes showed that the colony is already active and has started to spread out.
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