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Nearly half of all bats species use caves as shelter during the day for courtship, mating, rearing young, and hibernation, although some species also seek temporary shelter in caves at night in-between feeding bouts. Many caves facilitate the formation of highly gregarious species, some of which form colonies in the millions, while others roost in small groups or lead a solitary existence. Highly gregarious species may gain thermoregulatory benefits from roosting in caves, although there are also expected costs, including increased transmission of pathogens, high risk of predation, and extended commuting distances to foraging sites. Cave-roosting bats provide important services to humankind and to natural ecosystems by suppressing insect pests, dispersing seeds, and pollinating flowers, but they also redistribute nutrients from aquatic and terrestrial environments into caves that often support unique, endemic cave ecosystems. Cave-roosting bats are increasingly threatened by changing conditions, ranging from altered foraging habits to direct disturbance during hibernation and maternity periods. Some cave-roosting species are also being killed while commuting, foraging, and during migration as they encounter a proliferation of human-constructed objects that extend into the Earth’s lower atmosphere, such as high-rise buildings, communication towers, and more recently utility-scale wind turbines.


Bats, Caves

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