International Bat Night is an annual observance held on the last weekend of August to celebrate bats, raise awareness around them, and promote their conservation. International Bat Nights 2020 fall on 29-30th August.
Owing to their bizarre appearance, nighttime nature, and relationship with blood-sucking vampires, bats are among the most misunderstood animals on planet Earth. Furthermore, the way that the COVID-19-causing SARS-CoV-2-related coronaviruses were available among these flying mammals for quite a long time has put bats at an expanded danger of being viewed as an enemy species.
However, confusions and misconceptions aside, bats are incredibly essential to the environment and give some important ecosystem services that guide plants, creatures, and even us people by and large.
How bats quietly serve the environment
- They are long-distance pollinators and seed dispersers
Bats play a crucial role in helping plants replicate by working as seed dispersers and pollinators—operators that move male parts of one flower (anther) to the female parts (stigma) of another.
Fruit-eating bats are known to play a significant role in forest regeneration. What’s more, not normal for different birds, they will in general defecate or let out seeds during flight, viably encouraging seed dispersal in clear-cut strips. They likewise spread significant distances during their nightly flights—frugivorous bats can scatter seeds up to 1-2 km away—and dissipate unquestionably more seeds across cleared regions.
Moreover, while bat pollination is generally more uncommon when contrasted with bird or insect pollination, it includes an amazing number of economically and ecologically significant plants, for example, bananas, mangoes, and guavas. Plant-visiting bats likewise help pollinate some vital plant species as far as biomass in their habitats, which incorporate columnar cacti and agaves—the prevailing vegetation elements in arid and semi-arid habitats.
- They eat up pests and bugs
More than 66% of all bat species are insectivorous mammals that expend bug species during twilight and night hours from various environments, for example, forests, grasslands, farming scenes, aquatic, and wetland habitats. They likewise have a place with the restricted groups of creatures that normally go after mosquitoes; the northern long-eared bats are particularly well known for stifling mosquito populaces through direct predation.
Earthworms might be farmers’ best friends, however, bats intently follow with their regular bug controlling abilities, which keep ranches pest-free while at the same time decreasing the need to use destructive pesticides.
On a commonplace night, a bat devours what might be compared to its body weight. In any case, the species likewise comprises of some stand-outs, for example, the Mexican free-tailed bats, who are known to consume an expected 1,000,000 kilogram of corn earworm moths—the most costly agricultural pest insects—every night! In the USA alone, bats assistance lessen the expense of pesticide applications by a figure in the range of $3.7–$53 billion every year, and that is barring the expenses related to the evil impacts of pesticides’ effects on ecosystems.
- They support and fertilize the soil
Bat fecal matter, otherwise called guano, is considered among the world’s best natural fertilizers. It contains high convergences of restricting nutrients like nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium: key nutrients basic for plant growth.
Guano additionally works as a soil conditioner and enricher, while improving the soil’s drainage and texture. It controls nematodes (plant-parasitic worms) in the soil and can be used as a natural fungicide as well.
Because of its multi-reason esteem, guano has for some time been mined from caverns wherein bats dwell. In certain spots, guano harvesting is likewise completed on a sustainable premise, especially in caverns where bats migrate for a select few months every year.
- They work as important bioindicators
Bats are incredible ecological markers of habitat quality, and their size, mobility, life span, taxonomic stability, populace trends, and distribution grants them huge potential as bioindicators to the presence of contaminants in the environment.
Research shows that bat populaces are influenced by a wide scope of stressors, and thusly, specific changes in their numbers and action can be connected to environmental factors like climate change (and related outrageous weather conditions, for example, droughts, heatwaves, abnormal precipitation, cyclones, and sea-level rise), deterioration of water quality, agricultural intensification, misfortune and fragmentation of habitats, and pesticide use, to give some examples.
Expanded environmental stress can likewise suppress bats’ immune systems, and hence, a higher prevalence of diseases in these mammals could straightforwardly point at modifications in their environments.
In this way, aside from helping the environment directly, bats additionally offer an indirect service by working as proxies that assist researchers with diagnosing the health of an ecosystem.
All things considered, these superb animals are of immense value to nature and a ton of its occupants—including us individuals—and consequently, they should be secured, studied, and esteemed no matter what. They are the heroes nature needs and deserves, anytime.