Broadening the focus of bat conservation and research in the USA for the 21st century

Product Type: 

Journal Article

Year: 

2009

Author(s): 

Weller, T.J., P.M. Cryan, and T.J. O’Shea

Suggested Citation: 

Weller, T.J., P.M. Cryan, and T.J. O’Shea. 2009. Broadening the focus of bat conservation and research in the USA for the 21st century. Endangered Species Research. 8(1-2): 129-145.

Appropriately, bat conservation in the USA during the 20th century focused on species that tend to aggregate in large numbers and locations (e.g. maternity roosts, hibernacula) where populations are most vulnerable. Extensive research into habitat needs (primarily for roosting) of reproductive females during the previous 2 decades has produced a wealth of information useful for developing conservation strategies for this group in their summer roost areas. However, the ecological needs of males, non-reproductive females, and juveniles have received far less attention, as have the ecological needs of all bats outside the pup-rearing season. Hence, it is unlikely that a single paradigm could comprehensively address conservation needs of all demographic groups within a species because they may have different seasonal distributions, reproductive strategies, and thermoregulatory needs. Herein, we recommend research into a wider spectrum of demographic groups and seasons to form a more holistic vision of the conservation needs of bats. We urge greater attention to understanding thermo-energetic and reproductive underpinnings of observed patterns of seasonal distribution and habitat selection by bats in the USA. Such understanding is instrumental for development of scientifically sound conservation strategies to confront emerging threats to conservation of bats in the 21st century: climate change, disease, habitat degradation, and environmental contaminants. We discuss interconnections among these emerging threats and the fundamental need to incorporate understanding of thermo-energetic strategies of bats in development of conservation strategies or legislation to mitigate potential impacts on bat populations of the USA.