Many of the 47 European species of bats perform seasonal long distance migrations and use geographically widely separate habitats during their life cycle. A successful protection of bat populations therefore requires international cooperation and trans-boundary conservation measures. As a consequence, the EUROBATS Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats was negotiated in 1991 and signed by 31 European countries since. After the EUROBATS Agreement had come into force in 1994, it soon became clear that a summary of all information on bat migration on the European continent is needed. The present review of bat migrations in Europe shall fill this gap. It combines the efforts of the working group of the EUROBATS Advisory Committee with the results of a Research and Development Project funded by the German Federal Government. It also includes national reports on bat banding activities for many European countries. It is the outcome of multinational research efforts by numerous bat enthusiasts who marked bats and looked for recoveries on a predominantly voluntary basis.
From 1932 to 2004 about one million bats were banded in 35 countries of Europe. The resulting recoveries help to shape the current concept of long distance migrants, regional migrant and sedentary species. Maximum distances for one-way flights are 1,905 km for Nathusius' bats, 1,787 km for Parti-coloured bats, 1,600 km for Noctules, and 1,568 for Leisler's bats. The value for Nathusius' bats is the highest for any microbat worldwide. Banding results are reviewed for 36 species, limits and advantages of the banding method are discussed, and recommendations are made for future research priorities and international cooperation.