Saving Bats is Good Economics
The fledermaus, flying mouse, known in English as bats are a controversial animal. The word I most commonly hear used in a description is “icky.” But bats however much they may generate negative emotions, are natural pesticides and thus, an invaluable aid to human kind. The article below tells of a study demonstrating the benefit of bats to the cotton industry but much the same could be written about many farm products. It would be interesting to generate some data about how bats’ destruction of human pests like mosquitoes enhances our lives.
Preserving species of animals and insects is valuable. We do not know how dependent we are on biological diversity for our health and environment. But bats occupy a wonderful middle ground. They are a species worth preserving because they add to diversity and they are an economic resource whose benefits total millions of dollars even in such a restricted study as that of the cotton industry.
It is always pleasing for me to see the needs of the environment and profits, for once, speaking of the same need to protect a species. This is a problem that is easier to deal with than most in business ethics.
The best reason to protect bats isn’t environmental — it’s economic – The Week
To see how these bats are faring in a changing marketplace, a team of researchers led by University of Arizona ecologist Laura López-Hoffman tracked the value of their pest-control services to cotton growers over an 18-year period. Using the number of insects individual bats consumed nightly, as well as the overlap between bat roosts and cotton fields, the scientists were able to estimate how much value the bats generated by reducing crop damage and insecticide costs.
The team found that over their study period, bats saved an average of 131,385 kg of cotton from damage each year, and saved growers from having to use 32,046 kg of insecticide. But the monetary value of the bats’ bug-killing declined precipitously to $4.8 million in 2008, from a high of $23.9 million in 1990, thanks to falling global cotton prices, the reduction in U.S. cotton growth and, most significantly, the widespread adoption of Bt cotton.
From around the web.
From the web site, Bats N Bikes.
Every night we could go out, Michael went with us. We would set up our nets to catch the bats and other equipment to record bat calls, while Michael set up his extensive high speed camera equipment inside a family-sized tent on the edge of a dirt road, often surrounded by stinging nettles and poison ivy. Each bat we’d catch, we’d record the basics and if s/he was a species of interest, Michael would let an individual bat fly in the tent, catching their precise movements as they swooped around- their mouths open as they sent out calls too high for us to hear, the sounds bouncing back to their ears as they dodge every obstacle in their way. I’m not going to even attempt to go into his set-up because I would only fail to explain the details, but these details and his passion for wildlife photography are the main ingredients to the photos that allow us to witness the beauty of these nocturnal creatures that all too often escapes us.
Bats often only conjure up images of fear, or are rarely thought about. But I want to share some of Michael’s photos from my field season with all of you. Within those few short moments he spent with each bat, he captured what most people never have the opportunity to see up close. Maybe you are reading this because you already love bats, or you are curious, or perhaps you are an excellent friend and enjoy reading what I write. And maybe it’s something else all together. Either way, his photos offer a glimpse into the life of bats and their nocturnal friends- including wildlife photographers and biologists alike.