Swooping in this week was International Bat Appreciation Day (April 17), a day to bring awareness and recognition to these often misunderstood animals that play a vital role in the ecosystem. Bats act as a natural pest control, with some species known to consume up to nearly 600 insects per day. This includes moths, termites, mosquitos and other critters that can be pesky and cause significant damage to plants and wood. Bats are also exclusive pollinators to many plants across desert and tropical climates.
Due to threats from disease and climate change, bat populations in North America and beyond are considered to be endangered. At the Student Conservation Association, interns work to help monitor bat populations and provide critical research efforts.
Bat Cave Hibernacula Survey Intern
Bats are one of the most important wildlife at El Malpais National Monument in northwest New Mexico. Conservation efforts are underway to understand their population dynamics, roost sites and impacts on them from monument visitors, environmental changes and white-nose syndrome (WNS). WNS, a fungal disease spreading westward and decimating many bat populations, is expected to arrive in New Mexico within the next few years. This past season, an SCA intern assisted staff in conducting bat counts in over 200 lava tube caves, looking for indications of the disease, detecting signs of disturbance using Forward Looking InfraRed camera and acoustical monitoring devices, and collecting cave microclimate data.
Bat Monitoring Intern
Currently at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, an SCA intern is working to identify bat roosts and making population counts of winter cave and structure bat roosts. This internship also contributes to field surveys and stationary monitoring in association with state and national cooperative efforts to evaluate winter bat populations to assess the impacts of White Nose Syndrome.
With your help, we can continue providing opportunities for young people to protect bats and other wildlife species. This Earth Month, donate to the SCA! Be a force for good.