Started in 1998, this project aims to set up a national bat roost distribution database. Partial results have already been achieved, such as a geodatabase, referred to UTM MGRS 10×10 km cells, and displayed at 50 km resolution.
The main goal of the Project Roost is to collect and supply valuable information useful to plan successful conservation strategies.
The partial goals can be described as:
The current data base (a synthesis of which was presented as a poster at the VIIIth European Bat Research Symposium, Krakow) covers the 1990-1999 period. However, although many researchers joined the project, some did not and this resulted in an incomplete coverage of the Italian territory and a lack of information. Even some published references were not available for various regions.
We are currently setting up a database on the Italian bats for the Ministry of the Environment by examining both published material and museum collections to gather more information on roosts.
By transferring records to the Roost Database, we’ll obtain a complete national overview with data from literature and museums. A number of research teams is still carrying out surveys, aimed at finding new roosts especially in areas where there is a lack of information.
Besides looking for new potential roosting sites, many of us carry out annual counts at major roosts. When Project Roost started, participants were asked to supply only the most recent and significant data for each roost. From January 2000, we have been trying to obtain annual counts for sites where periodical counts are carried out.
In synthesis, the next steps of the Project Roost will be:
Not at all! Contributed records are property of each researcher, and no one can use them without explicit permission. Periodically, on the premises of a common agreement among contributors, data will be presented in a synthetic form (say, “in Italy there are x roosts used by y species”).
When the project is completed, we will have obtained a priceless tool for conservation. Although solely protecting roosts is not enough to save bats, it is nevertheless a fundamental measure. Once a list of the most important bat roost sites is available, we will push for conservation initiatives and seek funds to sustain long term research and conservation projects, following the example of various countries, in which similar projects were carried out years ago and resulted in successful conservation efforts.