Bats eat as many insects as birds
April 3, 2008
Using nets to control the presence of bats and birds at certain times of the day in the Panamanian rainforest, Margareta Kalka of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and colleagues found that bats have a significant impact on the number of insects in a given area. A second study, by Kimberly Williams-Guillén and colleagues at the University of Michigan, came to a similar conclusion using nets in a coffee plantation in Mexico.
A bat (Micronycteris microtis) consuming a katydid, Barro Colorado Island, Panama. [Photo by Christian Ziegler]
Kalka and colleagues say that given their importance in controlling insects, bats should be seen as a form of natural pest control.
"Given their ecological importance, bats should be included in future conservation plans aimed at preserving the integrity of tropical forests and also considered in agricultural management strategies based on natural pest control," they write.
M.B. Kalka et al (2008). "Bats Limit Arthropods and Herbivory in a Tropical Forest" and K. Williams-Guillen et al (2008) "Bats Limit Insects in a Neotropical Agroforestry System." Science 4 April 2008.