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Home arrow Environment arrow Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of Bats in a Changing World

Compensating for Lost Roosts

Sometimes it is inevitable that roosts in buildings are lost. The addition of artificial bat boxes near previously occupied buildings can successfully compensate in some instances. For example, colonies of Pipistrellus pygmaeus and Plecotus auritus and various other species throughout Europe benefited from artificial roosts when the original roost was destroyed (Anonymous 2006; Beck and Schelbert 1999). Artificial bat roosts were also provided for and accepted by South American Molossus molossus when roosts in buildings were destroyed (Alberico et al. 2004). In North America, Eptesicus fuscus, and Myotis lucifugus, will occupy artificial bat boxes installed at buildings that formerly housed colonies (Brittingham and Williams 2000). For example, the Bat House Research Project in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, has recently provided new accommodation for bats in the Letaba Rest Camp in an effort to help identify the most effective way to remove bats from buildings within the park (krugerpark. co.za/krugerpark-times-2-11-bat-accommodation-19864.html). Similar attempts to provide alternative roosting structures for synanthropic bats have been successful in the USA; for example, artificial roosts have been built on the campus of the University of Florida to host populations of Tadarida brasiliensis and other native bats (https://flmnh.ufl.edu/index.php/bats/home/).

These success stories should not imply that roosts in building are replaceable by artificial structures and that bats will readily occupy artificial roosts. Sometimes, for unknown reasons, bats avoid artificial roosts in buildings completely. Therefore, protection of existing roosts should be considered prior to attempting the use of artificial roosts.

Loss of Roosts Due to Demographic Changes in the Human Population

Demographic changes in human populations of many countries are turning rural areas into areas nearly devoid of humans. As a result, buildings are abandoned and, due to a lack of maintenance, deteriorate over time. Shortly after abandonment, many synanthropic bat species benefit, likely due to the reduced disturbance by humans. Deserted buildings may provide new roosting structures for bats, e.g., for Hipposideros nicobarulae in Myanmar (Douangboupha et al. 2012). Yet in the long run, synanthropic bats may vanish from these sites when buildings deteriorate (Sachanowicz and Wower 2013). Another effect of demographic changes involves movement and thus concentration of people in urban areas. Following this, previously unused buildings, even in industrial areas, or unoccupied space under the roof of buildings are converted into houses or apartments to host the influx of people in cities. This may cause losses of roosting opportunities for synanthropic bats. In China, like in many Asian countries, a vast number of old buildings are demolished during the process of modernization and this reduces the density of roosts significantly for synanthropic bats (Zhang et al. 2009).

 
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