Lesser long-nosed bat pollinating a saguaro cactus in the desert Southwest. Photo: Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International
What images enter your mind when you think of caves or bats? Many people’s initial thoughts center around small spaces, dark places and the misleading myths surrounding the world’s only flying mammal. Both caves and bats are part of a fascinating story found in your national forests and grasslands.
“Natural caves are some of the most unique and complex resources managed by the Forest Service,” said Cynthia Sandeno, a wildlife biologist for the Forest Service’s Eastern Region. “Caves are also home to many living things like bats that play a vital role in our everyday lives, by controlling insects and pollinating plants like agave.” Read more »
Little brown bats, like these found in a cave in Maine in 2013, are increasingly being found with white-nose syndrome. The U.S. Forest Service is researching many angles to help wildlife managers and the public to combat the disease. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Take a moment to look at the night sky and watch the swift flight of bats on their daily mission as they dart through your backyard or forest. Now, think about how it’s becoming harder to spot these winged wonders, and ask why. The answer: The quickly growing spread of a disease known as white-nose syndrome has been decimating bat populations, as explained in a recently released film on the subject.
This increasingly devastating disease has killed more than six million bats in just six years, a serious problem for a creature that provides so many benefits to the environment – as both a plant pollinator and as a major predator in keeping insect populations in check. Read more »
Bats like this northern long-eared bat are important to agricultural and forest ecosystems and are a significant force in keeping insect populations in check. (U.S. Forest Service/Sybill Amelon)
Sybill Amelon is trying to repair the damage Bram Stoker did to bats’ public image.
A research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Columbia, Mo., Amelon has introduced bats to more than 20,000 primary, secondary and college students and teachers. Over the past 20 years, she has explained bat biology and lifecycles to master naturalist classes, Audubon clubs, garden clubs and native plant societies. Through her research and conservation efforts, she has raised awareness about bat species, while inspiring people to save them.
Amelon’s work was recently recognized with a regional Gifford Pinchot Excellence in Interpretation and Conservation Education Award, a national accolade given to Forest Service employees for achievement in environmental interpretation and conservation education. The annual award is named in honor of the first Forest Service chief. Read more »
Indiana bats, such as this one, are part of a monitoring program on the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. The bats are fitted with a radio transmitter and tracked to roosting locations throughout the life of the transmitter. (U.S. Forest Service)
Synonymous with a superhero signal in the sky and silhouettes hanging upside down in a darkened cave, bats inspire a long-standing fascination, and with good reason: Bats are vital to healthy ecosystems and human economies world-wide.
With Halloween upon us and many people believing bats are creepy, the U.S. Forest Service wants to raise awareness about these mysterious and often misunderstood animals. For example, bats consume up to their body weight in insects every night, including agricultural and forest pests, thus reducing the need for chemical pesticides.
Almost a third of the world’s 1,200 species of bats feed on the fruit or nectar of plants. In return for their meals, these bats are vital pollinators of countless plants and essential seed dispersers with a major role in regenerating rainforests. Read more »
Well into the wee hours of night, for five successive evenings, teams of scientists from across the southeastern United States waited and watched as bats in the Apalachicola National Forest swooped down to feed on their insect prey only to be captured in sheer mist nets.
The scientific teams and U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologists were conducting bat surveys to test for white-nose syndrome and general bat healthiness throughout the region. Read more »
Consider the bat – you know, the flying type that swoops out of urban eaves or rural caves usually at dawn or dusk. What do you know about the central roles they play in controlling insect populations, balancing ecosystems or pollinating flowers, fruits and vegetables?
Rob Mies, author, director, and founder of the Organization for Bat Conservation gives a presentation sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service in U.S. Department of Agriculture's Jefferson Auditiorium, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, May 16, 2012. USDA photo by Tom Witham.
Last week, students in grades four through eight and educators from around the country did more than just consider the bat. They met a number of live bats via an hour-long Washington, D.C., Bats!LIVE distance learning seminar (view online video) including a little brown bat, a vampire bat and a straw-colored fruit bat with a six-foot wingspan. They asked questions of bat biologists, learned about threats to bats and what everyone can do to help bats in their own communities. Read more »