Bat conservation is particularly compelling because it impacts us all. If you think that you don’t live near bats or that your life isn’t impacted by bats, think again! Bats are literally everywhere – except for the regions surrounding the North and South poles, and remote islands. Unlike the picture painted by myths and superstitions, bats do not live their lives isolated in dark caves; rather, they interact on a daily basis with the same fields, forests, and waterways that we do. Likewise, their services to the environment, to agriculture, and to human health and welfare are available all around us, sustaining our ways of life. Whether you realize it or not, there is a close connection between bats and people around the globe, and so bat conservation is in our common interest, as the benefit is for all to enjoy.
Global Bat Species Richness
As the map above demonstrates, the areas of greatest bat diversity typically occur near the equator and in areas characterized by great biodiversity richness and varied habitat types. With at least 219 species, Indonesia has more bat species than any other country. This is owed in large part to the diversity of habitat offered by Indonesia’s archipelago of 13,000+ islands spread along the equator throughout Southeast Asia. Colombia comes in second, with at least 195 bat species. Its richness is due to the country’s vast array of ecological conditions comprised of coastlines with the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the high elevations of the northern Andes, the lush Amazon rainforest, and everything in between.
The Honduran white bat (Ectophylla alba) roosts under Heliconia leaves in Central America. ©Konrad Wothe
Even apart from these countries with particularly high bat species richness, bats are uniquely adapted to live in virtually all environments. With more than 1,300 species of bats in the world, spread across six continents, and ranging in size from smaller than your thumb to as heavy as 2.5 lbs. (1.2 kg), it makes sense that different types of bats have evolved to live in different environments – from arid deserts to tropical rainforests, and everything in between. In fact, depending on the species and location, bats are known to spend time living in all of these types of roosts: caves, mines, rock and cliff crevices, tree hollows, plant foliage, tree bark, roofs of homes, attics, football stadiums, bridges, artificial bat houses, etc.
This large community bat house is located in Elenor Klapp-Phipps Park in Tallahassee, Florida
With such great diversity and geographic spread, be assured that bats are nearby, and that their role in maintaining the health of local ecosystems and human economies is bigger than you realize. Bats are everywhere, and we wouldn’t want it any other way!