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Just Bats

Just Bats

Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Just Bats
    Book Description:

    Many biologists are becoming increasingly concerned about the survival of some species, but maintaining their numbers requires a change in people?s attitudes.Just Batswill help.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5997-1
    Subjects: Zoology, Environmental Science, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Why Bats?
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    In modern Western society, just the mention of bats is enough to conjure images of bloodthirsty vampires, draughty dark castles, and evil spirits. Bring up the subject at almost any gathering and the reaction is generally the same – bats are dirty and dangerous, common carriers of rabies, ugly creatures that get tangled in your hair.

    Old myths die hard. For no better reason than that they are nocturnal and shy, bats are viewed with foreboding by a large segment of society; arguably, they are the most misunderstood, feared, and persecuted of mammals. But it is not that way everywhere....

  6. Flight
    (pp. 17-25)

    The ability of bats to fly makes them different from all other mammals. Bats have gone beyond the gliding and parachuting abilities of several lineages of flying squirrels, flying lemurs, and Australian gliders, and developed active flight.

    Unravelling the details of bat flight was initially achieved by comparative anatomists who studied bone structure and the arrangement and relative sizes of muscles to predict how the system worked. More recently, innovations in high-speed photography have permitted further dissection of flight movements, and when these stop-action pictures are used in combination with advances in electromyography – the insertion of small electrodes into...

  7. Echolocation
    (pp. 26-39)

    Man has long marvelled at the ability of bats to manoeuvre in total darkness, for under these circumstances a Barn Owl, also a nocturnal creature, blunders into objects in its path.

    In the late 1700s, Lazarro Spallanzani, an Italian scientist, conducted experiments to determine how bats accomplish orientation in darkness. His studies, which included efforts to deny his experimental bats their use of smell, touch, and vision, showed that a bat lost its powers of orientation when its head was placed in a sack. Spallanzani concluded that his bats had a ‘sixth sense,’ and his results prompted Charles Jurine, a...

  8. Seeing and Smelling
    (pp. 40-44)

    I can demonstrate that the old saying ‘blind as a bat’ is misleading by recounting an experience I had while monitoring the echolocation calls of an Egyptian Slit-faced Bat in a small laboratory in Zimbabwe. These bats produce low-intensity echolocation signals, and trying to keep the flying animal within the 20 centimetre range of a microphone forced me to move about continually, presenting the bat with an insistent obstacle to avoid. For the first five minutes after its release in the laboratory, the bat managed to avoid all of the obstacles in the room, including the microphone I kept thrusting...

  9. Diet
    (pp. 45-68)

    One of the most dramatic measures of the diversity of bats is the variety of food they consume. Although some 600 species eat insects as the main dietary staple, others live on fruit, nectar and pollen, fish, frogs, birds, small mammals, blood, and even other bats. Most of this diversity occurs in the tropics, although many bats from temperate regions vary their diets by eating a wide range of insects.

    What any bat eats is determined by two important factors: the need for enough energy to keep the body going, and the need for essential chemicals to maintain it. Just...

  10. Energy and Survival
    (pp. 69-80)

    Where a bat roosts, when at night it is active, how it responds to rain and cool weather, all involve its energy demands. The bat flying about early on a summer evening and the bat hibernating in a cave in midwinter have each solved important energy problems. The flying bat is dispersing a surplus of heat; the hibernating one is coping with a shortage of heat. Because of different climates, not all bats face the same energy problems.

    It seems bats are always facing a problem of too much or too little heat. When they fly, the problem is usually...

  11. Roosts
    (pp. 81-91)

    Although bats usually pick caves, rock crevices, or different parts of trees for their roosts, they will also use mines and buildings, and some occupy what seem to us bizarre roost sites. I can recall spending a morning crawling on hands and knees elbow-deep in mud through a Warthog hole in Zimbabwe in search of Hildebrandt’s Horseshoe Bats. Warthogs spend their nights in these cave-like tunnels, which are also used by other animals, including hyenas, porcupines, a selection of snakes and lizards, and, of course, bats. Armed with a hand net and headlight, I slithered into the hole behind Naboth...

  12. Activity
    (pp. 92-94)

    Seasonal changes in the levels of bat activity are directly related to temperature conditions. One evening in May 1976, I sat outside the Rockefeller University Field Research Center near Millbrook, New York, waiting for the nightly exodus of the resident colony of about 30 Big Brown Bats. The wind was tart, and the mercury hovering around the 3°C mark, about 8C° cooler than the temperature inside the bats’ roost. The weather did not bode well for the bats, and I looked forward to observing their response to the wind and cold. A bat soon emerged from the roost, followed in...

  13. Migration and Navigation
    (pp. 95-101)

    Bats in many parts of the world avoid unfavourable conditions by migrating to less severe locations. Anyone frequenting the market in Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast, cannot fail to notice the thousands of Straw-coloured Fruit Bats which hang out there from November to mid-February. Although a few of these bats are present for the rest of the year, most of them show a very seasonal pattern of residence. Biologists who have spent long periods in the tropics, especially in areas where flying foxes occur, have remarked that some bats seem to move seasonally from place to place in...

  14. Reproduction
    (pp. 102-106)

    People often call bats ‘flying mice,’ and assume that, like mice and other rodents, they reproduce at alarming rates. In fact, bats are not very prolific in this regard; most species have only one or two litters per year, each with only one or two young. Red Bats produce the largest litters known from bats, occasionally having four babies, but more often they have only two or three, and they only have one litter annually. Even the most fertile of bats produce a maximum of four newborn a year.

    Some species show interesting variations in their patterns of reproduction. For...

  15. Populations
    (pp. 107-111)

    If seeing is believing, then it would not be difficult for anyone to accept that some species of bats achieve the highest population densities of any mammal in the world. Simply stand at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico (or at one of the other cave colonies) on an evening early in August and you will be an instant believer. As darkness approaches, tens of thousands of Mexican Free-tailed Bats emerge from the depths of the caverns in a chaotic and dizzying display of whirring wings. The seemingly endless cloud of excited animals rushing into the evening air...

  16. Predation and Mortality
    (pp. 112-114)

    When the diversity and large populations of bats are considered, it is surprising to learn that there are relatively few animals making bats a regular part of their diet. In fact, there is little evidence that any animal except man, through his destruction and poisoning of habitats, has much impact on populations of any species of bat. But this is not to say that many animals do not occasionally prey on bats. In Ontario’s Algonquin Park, for example, a Pine Marten was observed using a nearby colony of Little Brown Bats as a source of food. In New Mexico, Great...

  17. Parasites
    (pp. 115-121)

    The relative scarcity of animals that make bats a regular part of their diet is more than balanced by the array of parasites that prefer to live in or on bats. This does not make bats unusual – most animals harbour similar levels of parasites – nor does it mean that they are dirty. Indeed, bats are very clean animals, spending considerable time each day grooming their fur and licking their wing membranes. As a result, for a parasite to live successfully in the fur or on the wings of a bat, it must be designed to minimize its chances...

  18. Behaviour
    (pp. 122-138)

    Many times when people learn of my fascination with bats I am asked: ‘Just how smart are they?’ It is difficult to measure accurately the intelligence of humans, let alone bats, so I usually answer with a favourite anecdote.

    To get an indication of how well they respond to changing conditions, I decided to attempt to catch Little Brown Bats as they emerged from a day roost in a crack between two sections of a building where a new wing had been added. For several evenings I had noticed the bats leaving to feed by launching themselves out from the...

  19. Public Health
    (pp. 139-142)

    The popular misconception that bats are dirty and dangerous has led to feelings of distrust and hostility in many parts of the world. True, bats are commonly associated with two serious diseases, rabies and histoplasmosis, but their link to either disorder is not uniform throughout the world. Bats can spread these afflictions, and perhaps others yet to be discovered, to people, their livestock, or their pets, but except in some tropical regions there is no reason to treat them as ‘threats to public health.’ When dealing with bats, it is important to distinguish between things we do not like and...

  20. Keeping Bats Out
    (pp. 143-148)

    The caller was asking about bats, and I assumed it was yet another request for information on how to evict them from a building. Indeed, anyone monitoring my incoming telephone calls would suspect the only contact Canadians have with bats is the battle to keep them out of their homes. But this caller had a different problem. He was troubled by bats that were stowing away on a ship leaving the New Brunswick port of Dalhousie for Europe. I immediately suspected another case of migrating bats turning up on ships at sea. I was wrong.

    For several years the M.V....

  21. Conservation
    (pp. 149-152)

    For too long bats have suffered from a ‘bad press.’ In much of the world they are treated as harbingers of evil, beasts that deliberately tangle themselves in long hair and consort with supernatural beings such as werewolves and vampires. They are accused of stealing bacon and of being blind. True, bats are considered symbols of fertility and long life in some societies, but in the West, at least, their bad image persists. The reputation is understandable, in part: their roosting haunts are often dark and sinister, and because their nocturnal habits coincide with the activities of many human villains,...

  22. APPENDIX: Common and Scientific Names arranged by family
    (pp. 153-156)
  23. Sources of More Information
    (pp. 157-160)
  24. Index
    (pp. 161-165)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 166-166)