Bats: A World of Science and Mystery

Bats: A World of Science and Mystery

M. Brock Fenton, Nancy B. Simmons

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 022606512X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

There are more than 1,300 species of bats—or almost a quarter of the world’s mammal species. But before you shrink in fear from these furry “creatures of the night,” consider the bat’s fundamental role in our ecosystem. A single brown bat can eat several thousand insects in a night. Bats also pollinate and disperse the seeds for many of the plants we love, from bananas to mangoes and figs.
Bats: A World of Science and Mystery presents these fascinating nocturnal creatures in a new light. Lush, full-color photographs portray bats in flight, feeding, and mating in views that show them in exceptional detail. The photos also take the reader into the roosts of bats, from caves and mines to the tents some bats build out of leaves. A comprehensive guide to what scientists know about the world of bats, the book begins with a look at bats’ origins and evolution. The book goes on to address a host of questions related to flight, diet, habitat, reproduction, and social structure: Why do some bats live alone and others in large colonies? When do bats reproduce and care for their young? How has the ability to fly—unique among mammals—influenced bats’ mating behavior? A chapter on biosonar, or echolocation, takes readers through the system of high-pitched calls bats emit to navigate and catch prey. More than half of the world’s bat species are either in decline or already considered endangered, and the book concludes with suggestions for what we can do to protect these species for future generations to benefit from and enjoy.

From the tiny “bumblebee bat”—the world’s smallest mammal—to the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox, whose wingspan exceeds five feet, A Battery of Bats presents a panoramic view of one of the world’s most fascinating yet least-understood species.


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species worldwide. The >1300 species of living bats are arranged in twenty families based on their morphology, DNA and evolutionary history. Each family of bats has a scientific and at least one common name as shown in Table 1. Bats are currently classified in two suborders, the Yinpterochiroptera (yinpterochiropterans) and the Yangochiroptera (yangochiropterans). In the past scientists divided bats differently, recognizing groups called Megachiroptera (megabats = Old World Fruit Bats) and

of each favoring different types of streams/ponds in which their larvae develop. By looking at the mix of mayflies and caddiflies in the diets of the bats, researchers can tell where they were foraging (if there are different types of water bodies in the area). This also means that foraging bats could be used to monitor water pollution along watersheds. The great diversity of insects taken by Little Brown Myotis and Big Brown Bats is not surprising for at least two reasons. First, insects are

the Neotropics have ultrasonic nectar guides that make it easier for these bats to locate the flower and the nectar (and be covered with pollen in the process). At least one flowering vine, (Marcgravia evenia) from Cuba, has a specialized concave leaf above its flowers that reflects back echolocation calls, alerting bats to the presence of the flowers. In some cases, the petals of flowers shift slightly when a bat visits and extracts nectar, a change in flower form that might alert future bat

Brazilian Free-tailed Bats behaved like a milk herd, providing milk to any young that approached them. This hypothesis seemed reasonable when observing cave roosts housing literally millions of young bats and millions of mothers. The challenge to a mother trying to find “her” pup when returning to the roost cave was presumed to be beyond the abilities of mother bats. Further research, however, revealed that mother Brazilian Freetailed Bats recognize both the unique voices and the odors of their

left in a nursery roost when their mothers are out foraging. This behavior is particularly intriguing because it implies a level of social organization not necessarily expected from bats. Baby sitting also has been reported in Indian False Vampire Bats at colonies in India. There are some reports of infanticide among bats. Male Indian False Vampire Bats have been reported to cannibalize young that were not theirs. Male White-throated Round-eared Bats left in roosts with young sometimes attacked

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