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Protecting Bats from Extinction - Nick Tchankoshvili

Bats have survived for millions of years but now they are declining rapidly because of:
  • loss of habitat and foraging areas
  • pesticides in their favorite food — insects
  • extermination
  • human activity such as hunting or cave exploring
Bats are grouped into two suborders: microbats and megabats.
Over 100 bat species are at high risk.
Pesticides intended for insects kill bats.

Introduction

Bats are not only fascinating mammals but they are of great importance in nature. Bats have been on this planet for over 50-60 million years. There are between 950 to 1,000 species, living on all continents except Antarctica. The small microbats eat mostly insects whereas megabats, the larger-sized variety, feed mostly on fruit. Sometimes, both small and large species eat flowers and drink nectar.
  • increased use of pesticides, both in agriculture and in the treatment of building materials against pests, which in turn poisons the bats who consume them3
  • disturbance of colonies, particularly by people exploring caves in winter; human presence disturbs hybernating bats, causing bats to lose their energy and leading to exhaustion and death
  • extermination — millions of bats are killed due to myths, superstitions and misinformation
  • hunting — a large number of bats are used for commercial purposes, such as sales to museums, biomedical research institutions, or in some Third World countries as food In the last few decades bat populations have been declining at alarming rates worldwide. Bats remain the most endangered land mammal in the United States.1 The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources listed 53 bat species as endangered and at least that many more species at risk in 2000.2
Bats on the decline

Humans are the main cause of bat declines and extinctions. The causes for decline include:
habitat loss through such activities as deforestation, elimination of foraging areas, roost and cave destruction

Nick Tchankoshvili is a student at Tbilisi State Medical University, Georgia. As a high school senior, he won first prize at the 12th European Union Contest for Young Scientists, Amsterdam, for his study of bats in Georgia. His scientific interests include EEG and intelligence, sustainable development, and wildlife.

BioScience Article

“White-nose Syndrome Threatens Bats.”
According to Jeffrey Cohn, scientists from federal and state wildlife agencies, universities, and conservation groups have launched a major research effort to understand, identify, and counter a mysterious ailment that has killed perhaps a half-million insect-eating bats in the northeastern United States during the last two winters (BioScience, December 2008). Free to read.
http://caliber.ucpress.net/doi/full/10.1641/B581116

Bats in Europe
Learn about bats in this part of the world and efforts to protect them.
http://www.eurobats.org

Bats in Australia
Click any area on this Australian map to find out about bats in that area. http://www.amonline.net.au/bats/

Bats in the United Kingdom
Information and bat conservation efforts in the U.K.
http://www.bats.org.uk

Bat management in the U.S.
Facts about bats and examples of bat management efforts in the U.S.
http://users.erols.com/nolan/vivian/bats.htm

Fieldguide to U.S. Bats
This National Wildlife Federation site provides photos and information about numerous American bat species.
http://www.enature.com/fieldguides/view_default.asp?curGroupID=5&shapeID=1025

Bat Conservation International
This organization provides information about bats worldwide.
http://www.batcon.org

The Lubee Foundation
This organization is dedicated to the conservation of threatened and endangered species of Old World fruit bats. Click on “programs” in the menu on home page if you are a graduate student or scientist interested in helping with their research efforts.
http://www.lubee.com/

Read a book
  • Bats in Question: The Smithsonian Answer Book by Don E. Wilson (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997) is a fact book about bats that will interest both youngsters and adults alike
  • The Bat House Builder’s Handbook by Merlin D. Tuttle is “based on research conducted by BCI, contains the results from the first-of-its-kind study on bat house occupancy, includes plans, frequently asked bat house questions, and information about bats most likely to use bat houses.” (University of Texas Press; revised edition 2001)

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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: Protecting Bats from Extinction - Nick Tchankoshvili
Protecting Bats from Extinction - Nick Tchankoshvili
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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats
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