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  08.08.2017, 07:14h

Citizen scientists: the end of the project


Udruge Bioteka i Tragus pokrenule su početkom godine projekt „Građani znanstvenici: podržavanje populacija šišmiša šireg područja srednjeg i gornjeg toka rijeke Krke“ sufinanciran sredstvima Javne ustanove „Nacionalni park Krka“ u cilju osiguravanja novih, alternativnih, staništa za obitavanje šišmiša i praćenja stanja njihovih populacija.

The Bioteka and Tragus associations started the project “Citizen Scientists: Supporting the Bat Population in the Broader Region of the Middle and Upper Course of the Krka River”, co-funded by the KNP with the aim of ensuring new, alternative habitats for bats and the monitoring of their population.

With the help of inhabitants living in the broader Krka River environs, the Bioteka and Tragus associations built twenty houses for bats that have been placed in locations around the investigated area of the Krka River.

This project promotes the concept of civil science, meaning the inclusion of amateurs into scientific and professional activities that are carried out by properly educated individuals. During the project “citizen scientists” collected information on bats in their local environment and sent it for further processing. The bats of the Krka River have been investigated by several institutions and groups of citizens (elementary school students, public institutions, voluntary fire brigades, mountaineers, and others) from the cities of Knin and Drniš and the municipalities of Promina, Kistanje, and Ervenik. Citizens scientists have stimulated the development of volunteering in their community through their example and work.

Supporting the bat population, one of the most significant mammal groups, but nonetheless one of the most endangered, is very important both globally and locally. One of the main problems is the disappearance of their habitats. The intensive cutting of old trees in which bats can live, or the unnecessary use of non-selective insecticides from which they die, are increasingly endangering the survival of bats. For this reason, citizen scientists placed suitable homes for bats at sites that were thought to fit the needs of bats.

Basic information about the project and the bats were acquired by the “citizen-scientists” during a two-day educational session held at the Krka National Park NP office in Drniš, on the 28th and 29th of January 2017. The educational session included topics such as conservation biology (examples from the practice of bat protection, the management and monitoring of their population, information on the benefits provided by bats, etc.), the impact of urbanization on bats, and bat behavior (their diet, means of hunting, migration). At the next workshop, at the end of February, bat houses were created and training was conducted on the methodology of collecting data on the bat houses and sending these data to a professional team.

During the monitoring phase, during the spring of 2017, the citizens-scientists went out into the field every two weeks and collected data on the houses and its residents, recorded on specially prepared forms. In this manner, they were involved in scientific and professional work as well as the care of the local environment and nature. They learned what ecosystem services are, what benefits are provided to people by bats, and how they feed, hunt, and migrate, and utilize echo-location.

In June 2017, at the end of the monitoring phase, the citizen-scientists sent the collected data to a professional team that began processing and interpreting the data.

The analysis has shown that all the houses were located in favorable positions where bats can be expected to accept them. The presence of bats was recorded in three houses, as the very youngest citizen-scientists of the “Zečići” kindergarten in Drinovci noticed the remains of insect wings below their house, and during one inspection a dark body inside the house that they thought might be a bat. The elementary school students from Oklaj were also lucky, who reported finding the remains of insects and bats excrement beneath the cottage.