Monday, November 05, 2007

Indiana Jones

There’s a species that I mentioned in the original essay that I haven’t written about yet. Its ugliness is questionable, but there are a lot of people who don’t like bats. I had hoped to get this up by Halloween, but various factors conspired against it.
Image from FWS
Image from FWS

This is the Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis), which, as its name suggests, is found in Indiana. About half of the entire world population roost there, with the rest of them spread out among the nineteen surrounding states. Their genus, Myotis, means “mouse-eared”, and includes more common species such as the Little Brown Bat, and three others that are found in Ohio1. The species name, sodalis, is Latin for “companion,” which is an appropriate name for them, as they roost in groups of at least one hundred individuals.

As far as shape and nightly habits go, the Indiana Bat is like most other small (they weigh up to 7.5 grams), insectivorous bat—hunting by echolocation, swooping after moths and mosquitoes all night, and coming back to roost at dawn. They make their roosts under sloughing bark of dead trees, typically near streams. In the winter, they find caves in which to hibernate. Their exacting standards for these hibernacula (the technical term) are one of the reasons that they are endangered. The caves must be between freezing and 50°F, and maintain about 95% humidity.

The National Fish and Wildlife Service states that one of the major threats to the Indiana Bat is human disturbances of their hibernating caves, much like the Virginia Long Eared Bat. However, even gating erected to keep people out can disturb the environment of the cave, if done improperly. Many people are also worried about their summer roosts being disturbed, or cut down.

There certainly are conservation programs in place to try to help them out. They are listed as endangered, federally and internationally. The major goal of the conservation programs is to prevent the disturbance of the nesting sites. In the Wayne National Forest, there is a single hibernaculum, but hardly a tree can be cut down without at least a few nights of monitoring for these furry fliers.

1And likely in nearby states as well. What can I say; I’ve lived in this state too long to not be a little biased.


Anonymous said...

It's sad when the public television network steals ideas from blogs and doesn't credit them:
Nature: The Beauty of Ugly

My sympathies.

Greg said...

Saw this article and thought of your post. Sad.