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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preserves. Thousands of fish, insects (some with distinct coloration still preserved), amphibians and reptiles have been found at Messel. It is, however, the mammal fauna that is most striking. It includes pygmy horses, large mice, a primate, a marsupial, hedgehogs and pangolins in addition to the bats. The climate at Messel was probably subtropical to tropical at the time these animals were alive. A total of eight species of bats has been described from the Messel Pit, including the oldest

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

visitors to the fact that the flower may have already been drained of some or all of its nectar. Figure 5.8. A migrating male Lesser Long-nosed Bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae) vists a hummingbird feeder in Tucson, Arizona. Photograph by Ted Fleming. Chapter 5: What Bats Eat 115 There may be an interesting dichotomy between chiropterophilous flowers in the New World and the Old World because different kinds of bats live in these two regions. Although the New World nectar-feeders echolocate

calls and counted feeding buzzes to measure how often they attacked insects. By direct observation, we determined that the bats succeeded in about half their attacks, and that they caught both medium sized (30 mg.) and larger (100 mg.) moths. (See Box 5.1, Figure 1) Using a modified police traffic radar unit and working with Horacio de la Cueva from the Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada, we measured the flight speeds of Hoary Bats. We used the flight speeds

echolocation and the stylohyal does not directly contact the tympanic. Image courtesy of David McErlain and David Holdsworth. 42 Bats: A World of Science and Mystery Echolocation and Bat Diversity Echolocation is another key factor in the evolutionary success of bats. (See Chapter 4.) Anatomical evidence suggests that most Eocene bats were echolocators. Using echolocation would have made early bats more effective at detecting and tracking flying insects. Taken together, flight, echolocation

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