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Geographical distribution and inventory
GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION AND INVENTORY
There are thousands of bats of different shapes and sizes in the world. The largest number of these species are Microchiroptera, mostly insectivorous. But there are also Megachiroptera also called flying foxes, fruit eaters.
BAT POPULATIONS IN METROPOLITAN FRANCE
If the diversity of species of the bats present in France is well known, it is not so for their numbers, because they are unevenly distributed over the territory, and their identification is dependent on observations during studies.
Bats are good indicators of the ecological status of natural habitats by their position at the end of the food chain. They are very sensitive to changes in the ecosystems in which they live, which may explain their decline. Indeed, during the 20th century, the number of species recorded has decreased.
Metropolitan France has a large number of species of bats on its territory. Indeed it hosts 34 of the 36 species present in Europe. There are at least 15 species per department, even in Paris. No department has all of the species in its area.
You can see that the southern half of France has a larger variety of bats than the northern half. The Mediterranean, the Rhone Valley and the Alps are the territories with the greatest diversity.
BAT POPULATIONS AT RISK
In 2009, according to the Red List of endangered mammals in France, created by the IUCN France and the National Museum of Natural History, in partnership with the SFEPM and the ONCFS, a third of bat species are threatened or near-threatened in France.
Of the 33 species of bats evaluated seven were listed in the category "Near Threatened", mainly because of population decline, and four others are in danger of extinction. This is the case for the Common Bentwing Bat, classified as "Vulnerable", and Mehely’s Horseshoe Bat "Critically Endangered".
The current status of these species is the result of many threats: Disturbance due to increased activity around major habitation sites, habitat degradation caused by urbanization and prey depletion due to the intensive use of pesticides.
The Mediterranean area has both the greatest diversity of species and the highest proportion of species threatened with extinction on a national level. Responsibility for these areas in terms of conservation is very important.