Action Synopsis: Bat Conservation About Actions

Create artificial caves or hibernacula for bats

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Source countries

Key messages

  • Two studies evaluated the effects of creating artificial caves or hibernacula for bats on bat populations. Both studies were in the UK.




  • Uptake (1 study): One study in the UK found that the number of bats using an artificial hibernaculum increased in each of nine years after it was built.
  • Use (2 studies): One study in the UK found that an artificial cave was used by a small number of brown long-eared bats. One study in the UK found that an artificial hibernaculum was used by four bat species.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A study in 2004–2006 at a wetland nature reserve in Cambridgeshire, UK (Gulickx et al. 2007) found that an artificial cave was used by 1–2 hibernating brown long-eared bats Plecotus auritus in each of two years after construction. Bats were found hibernating attached to the cave roof or in between the concrete cave roof sections. The cave (2 m wide x 2 m high x 30 m long) consisted of a trench dug into the underlying limestone with a pre-cast concrete roof containing elongated bat bricks with six gaps in each. A door made of steel and oak boards was constructed to restrict access by predators and humans. Two slots in the top of the door allowed bats to pass through and a fine wire mesh on the bottom of the door allowed air flow. The cave was installed in 2004 and inspected for bats in 2005 and 2006.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A study in 2004–2013 in a forest in Thetford, UK (Gibbons 2013) found that an artificial hibernaculum was used by hibernating bats of four species with numbers increasing in each of nine years after it was built. The artificial hibernaculum was first used by one brown long-eared bat Plecotus auritus in 2007, the second winter after it was built. In 2008, two brown long-eared bats were counted in the hibernaculum. From 2009 to 2013, three bat species were counted in the hibernaculum (brown long-eared bats, Daubenton’s bats Myotis daubentonii and Natterer’s bats Myotis nattereri) with the total number increasing each year (2009: 13–16 bats; 2010: 18–31 bats; 2011: 31 bats; 2012: 25–50 bats; 2013: 54–62 bats). The hibernaculum (built in 2004) consisted of a 95 m long ‘Y’ shaped concrete block tunnel with an access grille, ventilation pipes and bat bricks built into the ceiling. Hanging planks and logs with slots cut into them were placed inside the tunnel. Bats were counted inside the tunnel during 1–4 months in winter in 2006–2013.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Berthinussen, A., Richardson, O.C. & Altringham, J.D. (2020) Bat Conservation. Pages 65-135 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Bat Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bat Conservation

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What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, terrestrial mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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