Plecotus austriacus (Fischer 1829) Grey Long-Eared Bat
Hebrew name: אוזנן, oznan
Global Threat: NE – Not Evaluated
Regional Threat: EN (A4ac,B,C) – Endangered
Distribution area: Found in the Judean Desert, Northern Negev and along the more arid parts of the Syrian-African Rift Valley (Eilat, Arava, Dead Sea shores, Jordan Valley north to Mehola), as well as at the top of Mt. Hermon at altitudes above 1600 m. Breeding colonies comprise dozens of individuals (up to 100).
Historic distribution: Aharoni (in Makin 1977) reported finding the species in the Dead Sea Valley, in the 1930s. In the 1950s Harrison (in Makin 1977) found the species in the Eilat area (Nahal Amram, Timna), in the Judean Desert and in the Adullam Cave (south of Beth Shemesh). Makin (1977) found grey long-eared bats in the Judean Desert (Haritoun Cave), in the Northern Negev (Avdat, Revivim) and in the Eilat area in the 1970s. Circa 30 individuals were counted in one breeding colony in the Negev.
Typical Habitat: Roosts in dry, shallow caves. Forages while hovering over plants and water, feeding mainly on Lepidoptera (Whitaker et al. 1994, Feldman1998). Hunts over agricultural areas and warm, low valleys (Macdonald & Barrett 1993).
Threat and Disturbance Factors:
1. Insecticide use in agricultural areas.
2. Human visitors to roosting and wintering caves.
Population Size: The grey long-eared bat ranges over an area of about 5000 km2 in Israel. The population is sparse, and breeding colonies usually have only a few dozen females (e.g. the Judean Desert caves).
Fluctuations in Population Size: The grey long-eared bat has apparently disappeared from the Mediterranean region (Adullam, Jerusalem, Bethlehem), and survived only in the desert and the Syrian-African Rift Valley. The population has disappeared from one cave in the Negev and another in the Eilat region that are frequently visited by hikers.
Isolation between Subpopulations: The individuals on the top of Mt. Hermon apparently originate from the Syrian Desert, and form a distinct population from the Israeli desert population.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation:
1. Reducing insecticide use in agriculture.
2. Protecting caves used for roosting, wintering and breeding by the species.