UEA needs public’s help with Big Norwich Bat Project

Nature-lovers in Norwich have been asked to help with a survey of the area's bats, which hopes to shed light on the living habits of the city's nocturnal residents.

The Big Norwich Bat Project is a research scheme being run by the University of East Anglia, the Norwich Bat Group and the British Trust for Ornithology. It aims to learn more about what influences where bats live as well as promoting interest and awareness of these mysterious winged mammals.

Organisers have mapped out a 196sq km survey area across the city and its suburbs, divided into a grid of 1km squares. Each needs to contain a volunteer garden where the survey can be conducted to discover how many bats are living there.

Dr Iain Barr, from the university's School of Biological Sciences, is part of the project. He said: 'We are looking for people who will let us use their garden to survey bats for one night in the next few months.

'In return, volunteers will get to discover which of the 18 species of bat currently in the UK are present in their area, and be part of a unique and exciting research project.'

The data collected will form the basis of the dissertations of two MSc students at the university. Beth Robinson is exploring the effect of urban features, such as housing density and streetlights, on bat activity and species diversity, while Katie May will be determining how natural features within the landscape, such as water bodies and proportion of woodland, affect bats.

Beth and Katie said: 'We are really excited about this project; it is a great opportunity to learn more about bats and to get volunteers interested in them too.'

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To register to participate, visit www.norwichbatgroup.org.uk/project.html, or email bignorwichbatproject@gmail.com.