Diversity and conservation of bats in North America

Product Type: 

Journal Article

Year: 

1996

Author(s): 

Bogan, M.A., T.J. O'Shea, and L.E. Ellison

Suggested Citation: 

Bogan, M.A., T.J. O'Shea, and L.E. Ellison. 1996. Diversity and conservation of bats in North America. Endangered Species UPDATE. 13(4&5): 1-4, 14.

After years of neglect, fostered by misunderstanding and outright persecution, bats are finally being acknowledged as important components of biological diversity. In turn, there is increasing concern about their conservation status. This awakening of public interest and concern is coming none too soon, as many species of bats are widely believed to be imperiled by human actions.

Among mammals, bats are the second most diverse order (after rodents) and occur on all continents except for Antarctica (Kunz and Pierson 1994). Of the estimated 44 species living in the United States and Canada (North America as defined here; Jones et al. 1992), four species plus two subspecies of a fifth species are federally endangered, and at least 19 species, in whole or part, have been listed as federal Species of Concern (former Category 2 Candidate Species; Fish and Wildlife Service 1994a). Bats
face multiple threats of ignorance, suspicion, pesticide poisoning, roost destruction and closure, habitat loss, over-exploitation, and outright extermination. Cole et al. (1994) estimate that for bats worldwide, 1 % (10 species) became extinct in the last 500 years, 3% are now endangered, 2% are vulnerable, 50% have stable population levels, and no assessment is possible for the remainder. This lack of information on status and trends of bat populations severely hampers our ability to develop meaningful management and conservation plans for bats…