Taxonomic Notes: Originally described as a subspecies of Plecotus austriacus, but clearly distinct; see Mayer and von Helversen (2001) for genetics and Tvrtkovic et al. (2005) for morphology.
Range Description: Plecotus kolombatovici is a Mediterranean endemic with its distribution fragmented into three parts: southern regions of the Balkans and Asia Minor (Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and probably into Israel, Palestine and Jordan), northeast Libya (Cyrenaica) and northwest Africa from Morocco to northwest Libya, it was found in Malta and Pantellaria (Spitzenberger et al. 2006). It occurs from sea level to higher altitudes in the Rif and Atlas mountains.
Countries occurrence: Albania; Algeria; Croatia; Cyprus; Greece (Kriti); Italy; Lebanon; Libya; Malta; Morocco; Serbia (Serbia); Tunisia; Turkey
Upper elevation limit (metres): 3000
Population: Little is known about population size and trends in this species, although it is regarded as relatively common in North Africa. In Europe, the total population is estimated at fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, and it is suspected that the population may be declining. Summer colonies usually number 10-30 females, although a breeding colony of 120 females was found in a building in Croatia (F. Spitzenberger pers. comm. 2006). Winter clusters are smaller (10 individuals), and the species is often solitary at this time of year (S. Aulagnier pers. comm. 2007). It was thought that European, African and southwest Asian populations were isolated from each other, but range extensions as a result of recent records indicate that they might not be as isolated as was previously thought.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat and Ecology: It forages in a variety of open and semi-closed habitats, mainly steppe but also agricultural landscapes in both lowland and mountain areas. It often forages over small water bodies. It feeds predominantly on moths, but also takes beetles and flies. Summer roosts are primarily rocky cavities, but also dark areas of old monuments, ruins, caverns and buildings. Winter roosts are located in buildings, mines, caves, wells, and trees.
Major Threat(s): Pesticides and roost disturbance have a negative impact on the species, but are not thought to be causing significant population declines at the global level. However, in Europe, where this species is largely restricted to coastal areas, disturbance of roost sites by tourists may be a major threat.
Photos at Palaichori 20/5/2016, by Michael Hadjiconstantis.