Bats play valuable roles in our ecosystems, such as cycling nutrients, pollinating plants, and consuming agricultural pests. However, their populations in North America have been declining. Part of the reason is the loss of habitat due to forestry, urbanization, and farming. Another reason is the use of pesticides that kill the insects bats eat. Caused by a fungus, white-nose syndrome has devastated bat populations in Eastern Canada. Another problem is free-ranging domestic cats, which kill a lot of female bats. It’s important to understand male and female bat mortality differences, but bats are hard to study. Passive surveillance from the public – reporting sick or dead bats – can help.

Key Takeaways:

  • Forestry, urbanization, and agriculture have reduced the habitat for bats, while pesticides have killed the insects they feed on.
  • Many bats have been killed by white-nose syndrome (caused by a fungus) and by free-roaming cats.
  • The public can help with bat research by reporting sightings of bats, dead or alive.

“Bats provide enormous value to our ecosystems, but because they do their work under the cover of darkness, we aren’t always aware of the help they give.”

Read more: