Forest regeneration plays a key role in conservation. Healthy populations of birds and bats are needed to help disperse seeds. Fruit-eating bats are one of the most important seed dispersers in the tropics and we’re lucky to have 25 species of them in Osa! Lots of bats equals more forest regeneration and increased plant biodiversity.
Two conservation challenges to bat driven regeneration are deforestation, which results in a loss of trees needed for bat roosting, and the mentality that bats are pests which leads to their roosts being destroyed. A potential solution to this problem is implementing artificial bat roosts. “Bat Boxes” are an effective tool for bat conservation in deforested areas.
In collaboration with research scientist Gloriana Chaverri 32 bat boxes were placed in three different sectors of Osa Conservation’s properties to attract fruit-eating bats. After almost 10 months, more than half of the boxes have bats. At the moment, the most abundant bats are insectivorous, but we have observed a steady increase in fruit-eating bats, and accumulation of seeds at the base of the boxes.
Overall, this project has been a very successful step in the right direction for bat conservation. There have been excellent numbers of bats in the boxes! Some of the boxes have become permanent homes for large groups of bats. We will continue to monitor the boxes for at least one more year, and hope that we can convince other organizations and landowners to consider using artificial bat boxes to aid their forest regeneration efforts.
Click here to read more about this project.
Fast Facts About Bats!
- Bats eat bugs! In the U.S. bats are estimated to be worth more than $3.7 billion a year in reduced crop damage and pesticide use.
- Bats are important pollinators! Some of the commercial products that bats help provide include: bananas, peaches, cloves, carob, and agave.
- Bats play a key role in reforestation! Fruit-eating bats help repopulate tropical forests by dispersing the seeds of fruiting trees over wide areas. Bats are important seed dispersers for avocados, dates, figs, and cashews – to name a few.
Fast Facts Source: Bat Conservation International