1 Tahrcountry Musings: Economic Importance of Bats

Monday, April 04, 2011

Economic Importance of Bats

 Diseases and increased development of wind-power facilities are threatening populations of insectivorous bats in many parts of the world. This past weekend I read an excellent paper on the economic importance of bats in agriculture and forestry. Even though the study is based in US it has implications worldwide.

Bats are voracious predators of nocturnal insects, spanning crop and forest pests. Their activity    decreases the need for pesticides. The researchers say a single colony of 150 big brown bats in Indiana eat nearly 1.3 million insects a year. They add that loss of bats in North America could lead to agricultural losses estimated at more than $3.7 billion/year.   Downstream impacts of pesticides on humans, domestic and wild animals and our environment are not included in this estimate.  The total value of bats to the agricultural industry is roughly estimated at $22.9 billion a year
The researchers issue this warning “Not acting is not an option because the life histories of these flying, nocturnal mammals -- characterized by long generation times and low reproductive rates -- mean that population recovery is unlikely for decades or even centuries, if at all,". They have made an impassioned plea for increased awareness of the benefits of insectivorous bats among the public, policymakers and scientists.
Economic Importance of Bats in Agriculture

Science 1 April 2011:
Vol. 332 no. 6025 pp. 41-42
DOI: 10.1126/science.1201366 

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