What benefits do bats provide?
Bats are pretty abundant in nature. They can be found in all continents of the world except Antarctica. As abundant as they are however, they are hated by many people. Many people do not want bats around because they carry many disease causing pathogens. Others are mainly superstitious in their belief that bats carry bad omens. Whatever the case may be, bats are not all bad. In fact, bats do more good for the environment than bad. Some benefits provided by bats are discussed below:
Bats are quite useful in keeping the insect population in check. Insectivorous bats can eat up to 100 insects in a single day. Each year, in the US, bats collectively save farmers more than $3.7 billion which would have been used in pest control. More bats around farmlands means less damage to crops as insects are eaten before they have had a chance to do any real damage.
Apart from helping to keep the insect population in check, bats are also predators of different small animals such as fishes and frogs. They even feed on the blood of birds and other mammals. Some species of bats also eat scorpions and spiders. Bats exhibit a wide diversity in feeding and are natural predators that help to keep many animal populations in check.
It’s no news that without pollination the world’s human population will slowly fade away as most crops need to be pollinated before bearing fruit. Many bat species, especially those in tropical and subtropical areas, are known for their nectar-loving behaviors. Many plants in these areas rely on pollination from bats in order to flower and produce fruits. The long nosed bats are especially great as pollinators and they are considered very important in agriculture.
Agents of seed dispersal
Many bats love fruits and are the major dispersing agents of these fruits. A species of bat called the flying fox is particularly popular for this. These species are relatively big and they disperse seed by carrying the seed from one location to the other. Their actions lead to a widespread plant species from one location to another. Bats help disperse many angiosperm seeds and seeds from bigger plants, which in turn grow and provide shade for more delicate plants to grow. Bats also play an important role in forest generation.
Bats are the natural predator of some animals but they also serve as prey to other animals. Just as they eat insects for survival, other animals also eat bats for survival. They therefore help to keep the delicate balance of nature. Some animals that feed on bats are big birds like falcons, hawks, owls, etc. Other mammals such as raccoons also feed on bats.
Scientific research and inspiration
For decades, bats have been studied for the unique qualities they possess. Their unique membrane wings have helped scientists get ahead with technological advancements like drone technology and base jumper suits. More work has been done on echolocation, which has been inspired by bats. Bats use echolocation to locate places by emitting high frequency signals which are beyond the human hearing range. The sound bounces around objects and returns as an echo to the bat. Due to the delay caused by the echoes, the bat is able to pinpoint its exact location. This unique ability has been studied by scientists and applied to many areas of engineering.