MEXICO CITY – Mexican scientists are conducting conservation work with bats so that the flying mammals can continue contributing to the vital process of pollination, the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) reported on Thursday.
In a communique, the research institute – one of the country’s most prestigious such facilities – said that some bat species contribute to pollination, help control insect pests and help disperse seeds, according to ongoing studies.
According to Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM), 75 percent of the foods consumed by humans depend entirely on pollination to reproduce and grow.
IPN research is evaluating the ecological and conservation needs of the Leptonycteris yerbabuenae bat species, popularly known as the lesser long-nosed bat.
The study titled “Tracking Bats for Conservation: Cooperative Study on the Foraging Behavior of Tube-lipped Bats” is analyzing the movements of these migratory animals.
Via the study, scientists are obtaining valuable data for improving their ability to preserve and protect the species.
For the past year, the scientists have been working in the town of Techaluta de Montenegro, in Jalisco state, and in the community of Cacachilas, in Baja California Sur.
They are attempting to capture 24 male bats – 12 individuals at each site – onto which they will install GPS transmitters to register their movements while they are out hunting for food.
Veronica Zamora, a scientist with the Interdisciplinary Research Center for Comprehensive Regional Development (CIIDIR), said that in Mexico there are 138 different types of bats.
Of those, just three feed on the blood of farm animals or livestock.
“The rest of the bats are our allies, since we benefit from their existence,” she emphasized.
Zamora, who is also a professor at Mexico’s National Science and Technology Council (Conacyt), was speaking about the migratory bats that feed on nectar, which she said are vulnerable to climate change, given that environmental shifts can affect the availability of seasonal floral resources.
Besides climate change, deforestation and pesticides have affected the habitat of bats.
“In a publication, we conclude that 50 percent of the (bat) species in Mexico are facing a severe threat in combination with climate change and land use,” she said.
In addition, mining activity is another huge problem to overcome in saving the bats, since the sites where such activity is carried out – caves and caverns – are where many bat species reproduce and hibernate.