What flies through the night, silently guarding and protecting our world from evil? Batman? Try...a bat. Like Batman, bats are widely misunderstood and vilified. Amy Wray disproves the myth that bats are dangerous villains and explains why they, instead, deserve a hero's welcome -- and our protection.
The Earth without bats would be a very different and much poorer place. More than 1,300 species of bats around the world are playing ecological roles that are vital to the health of natural ecosystems and human economies.
From deserts to rainforests, nectar-feeding bats are critical pollinators for a wide variety of plants of great economic and ecological value. In North American deserts, giant cacti and agave depend on bats for pollination, while tropical bats pollinate incredible numbers of plants.
Insectivorous bats are primary predators of night-flying insects, and many very damaging pests are on their menu. Pregnant or nursing mothers of some bat species will consume up to their body weight in insects each night.
Many of the more than 1,300 bat species consume vast amounts of insects, including some of the most damaging agricultural pests. Others pollinate many valuable plants, ensuring the production of fruits that support local economies, as well as diverse animal populations. Fruit-eating bats in the tropics disperse seeds that are critical to restoring cleared or damaged rainforests. Even bat droppings (called guano) are valuable as a rich natural fertilizer. Guano is a major natural resource worldwide, and, when mined responsibly with bats in mind, it can provide significant economic benefits for landowners and local communities.
[Source: Youtube: TEDed, www.batcon.org]