Międzyrzecz Fortified Front (MFF), NW Poland, was built by the Germans during World War II. The middle section of the MMF, the “Central Sector Wysoka”, consists of a line of tunnels that connect to above ground fortifications. After World War II, the system was deserted, and due to its use by hibernating bats from Central Europe, it became designated as a NATURA 2000 site. It is now one of the ten largest bat hibernation sites in the European Union, with 38,500 bats belonging to 10 different species (Four species listed under Annex II of the Habitats Directive) recorded during the January 2015 bat census. The surrounding area consists of fragmented forest and farmland that supports pine marten and stone marten populations. During recent bat censuses, marten scats have been found in the tunnels as well as circumstantial evidence that marten have been predating on the hibernating bats. In order to assess the potential impact, (if any) of marten at this site, a non-invasive survey was conducted to collect marten scats. The aims of the study were to conduct molecular analysis that identified the species, sex and individual from scat samples. Secondly, a molecular based dietary study was conducted on scats to identify the presence of bat DNA in the scats. Scat and hair tube surveys were used to collect samples for molecular analysis. DNA was extracted from these non-invasively collected samples. Existing TaqMan® MGB probe based qPCR assays were used for species identification and sex determination. Bat species-specific primers were designed to identify bat DNA in the scats using a SYBR® Green Dye qPCR assay. Microsatellite analysis was used for individual animal identification. Results confirm that both pine marten and stone marten are present in the tunnels. The scat distribution of both species is similar above and below ground with only pine marten scats being found in the north of the survey area. Evidence of both species has been found in the tunnels throughout the year and not only when the bats are hibernating. Scats from multiple individuals of both species have been identified in the tunnels indicating that tunnel use is by more than one or two individuals. Scat densities in the tunnels are more associated with access points than with higher bat densities. Dietary analysis has confirmed the presence of bat DNA in scats from both marten species, with DNA from Myotis daubentonii and Myotis myotis occurring with the highest frequency. While the degree of marten consumption of bats appears high the impact on the resident bat population at present appears low.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2015|
- Genetic monitoring, Pine Marten, Stone Marten