Scientists have revealed the diets of endangered Indiana bats and vulnerable northern bats, offering information to help manage the species and their habitats more effectively.
Bats’ Midnight Snacks Reveal Clues to Managing Endangered Species
(Photo: Clement Falize/Unsplash)
(Photo: Clement Falize/Unsplash)
Saving bats is therefore perhaps a more difficult task than saving other species. After all, cryptic insects only emerge at night and are very active, making it difficult to track their movements and behavior, according to ScienceDaily.
Scientists from the University of Illinois and Brown University uncover the diet of endangered Indiana bats and vulnerable northern bats in groundbreaking study, offering tips for managing effectively species and their habitats.
This was an in-depth study of these two endangered species in areas where they coexist. This has never been done before.
This work gives us a better understanding of how bats not only cohabit, but also benefit from our forests, and how we can manage the forest to provide better habitats for bats, says Joy O’Keefe, assistant professor and specialist of Wildlife Extension at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences.
Previous studies of the diet of these bats relied on older, outdated methods that may have missed crucial prey species. And no study has yet looked at how the two species distribute their prey resources to cohabit.
When two closely related species share the same habitat, it suggests that they are likely designed similarly and require similar areas to inhabit and feed.
Tim Divoll, a data scientist at Brown’s Center for Computation & Visualization, who has completed his Ph.D. study under O’Keefe, adds, “Our job was to figure it out.”
For four years, Divoll and O’Keefe trapped bats and collected fecal samples from two locations in Indiana: a large managed forest and an area with small woodlots near a major airport.
The researchers used DNA in bat droppings to identify insect prey and added size categorization as a more convenient method to observe insect prey.
When a bat observes two moths of the same size and with the same flight pattern, it cannot tell which species it is.
Divoll claims he will devour anything he can catch. I wanted to take an approach more in line with how bats see their prey.
We tend to believe that genetic categories of prey matter most, but bats don’t study taxonomy.
However, taxonomic identification can be quite exciting. For example, some of the insects in the dataset may need certain host plants.
We want to help managers recognize this so they can manage a variety of plant types that harbor a variety of insects, resulting in healthier forests and more food opportunities for bats.
Overall, both bat species consumed many of the same insects, such as moths, beetles, crickets, wasps, mosquitoes and others.
They also consumed a large number of agricultural and forest pests, demonstrating their role as producers of valuable ecosystem services.
Surprisingly, the smaller of the two, the northern myotis, took much larger prey. The northern is a gleaner, meaning it selects prey from surfaces at least some of the time, the study found.
According to O’Keefe, foraging bats would be more likely to detect larger insects on bark or leaves.
In contrast, aerial hawkers, or bats that catch prey mid-air, will identify and pursue anything that moves through the air, large or small.
The modest variation in prey size preference and foraging method may be enough for bats to avoid direct competition, but the researchers cannot be certain based on this study alone.
Read more: White-nose syndrome: devastating disease discovered in Chinese bats
Things you can do to save endangered species
The first step to saving endangered species is understanding how fascinating and valuable they are. Our natural environment provides us with several essential services, such as clean air and water, food and pharmaceutical sources, as well as commercial, aesthetic and recreational benefits, according to the Endangered Species Coalition.
To avoid bringing wild animals into your home, store trash in sheds or boxes with lockable lids, feed pets inside, and lock pet entrances at night.
Reduce the amount of water you use in your home and yard to give animals that live in or near water a better chance of survival.
Every year, millions of birds perish as a result of accidents with windows. You can help reduce the number of accidents simply by putting window decals in your home and business.
Attracting native insects such as bees and butterflies can help pollinate your plants. The expansion of non-native species has had a significant influence on native populations all over the world.
Invasive species compete for resources and habitat with native species. They can also feed directly on native species, driving them to extinction.
Traveling abroad can be exciting and enjoyable, and everyone wants a souvenir. However, some souvenirs are produced from endangered species.
Avoid supporting the illegal wildlife trade, which includes tortoiseshell, ivory and coral.
Beware of products containing fur from tigers, polar bears, sea otters and other endangered wildlife, crocodile skin, live monkeys or great apes, most birds live, including parrots, macaws, cockatoos and finches, certain live snakes, turtles and lizards, certain orchids, cacti and cycads, and medicines derived from rhinos, tigers,
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