It is easy to neglect the importance of bats as a contributor to ecosystems because of the nasty background they have. They are related to vampires, rabies, and are thought to be dirty vermin because of their appearance. However, bats play a vital role in various ecosystems without these mammals many ecosystems would be adversely affected. If one looks past the physical appearance of a bat their various jobs can be noted because they are considered to be a keynote species in tropical ecosystems. A keynote species means that if the species was to suddenly disappear then the rest of the food web would collapse. This is because bats are an important pollinator. It is surprising to accept that bats are pollinators because they are not insects and have a large range in size. However, they pollinate many fruits and other vital plants in the tropics. As well their guano (bat poop) is a fertilizer for the plants so they indirectly helps with the growth and production of many plant species.
Bats are important for the North American region because they are able to cross-pollinate flowering plants and disperse seeds of various vegetation. However, their most notable contribution in North America, even here in Charlottesville, is their ability to control pests. Even though homeowners see bats as a nuisance they vastly decrease the amount of mosquitos in our area. Since bats are nocturnal it is hard to see them at work but the bats in Virginia have the ability to consumer 3,000 mosquitos in one night! A bats diet is not limited to mosquitos. They eat many other insects that can consume and damage crops. In this way bats save farmers countless dollars that would be spent on pesticides.
The Virginia Wildlife website accounts for three types of bats found in Charlottesville area. The types of bats are the silver haired bat, eastern red bat, and the evening bat. These bats contribute to the biodiversity of the UVA area and should be protected to help control the insect population and help pollinate the wildflowers found in UVA. Now that you know a little more about how bats help habitats you should think twice before squirming if you see them around at night!
Post by Mercedes Talvitie
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Web. 20 March 2015 http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bats/facts/
“Bats are Important” Bat Conservation International. Web. 20 March 2015 <http://www.batcon.org/why-bats/bats-are/bats-are-important>