In a recent study, scientists discovered that white-nose syndrome (WNS)-affected little brown bats significantly boosted their foraging activities at artificial insect buffets. Bats will be able to boost their fat reserves before and during hibernation thanks to the bug buffets, which are situated close to hibernation areas. They should be able to survive the illness as a result.
For bats with WNS, hibernation is extremely dangerous since the condition interferes with hibernation. Bats may thus awaken while hibernating, which might result in malnutrition, dehydration, and ultimately death.
The study is a distinctive and novel experiment that was published in Ecological Solutions and Evidence. It is non-invasive, targets increasing conservation efforts for winter colonies at danger of WNS, and offers a consistent food supply—important in the winter when bugs are limited.
Bat Conservation International’s lead scientist, Dr. Winifred Frick, revealed that bats ate three to eight times more than normal when they set up bug buffets. In doing so, they anticipate that bats will consume more, put on more weight, and recover from WNS more quickly.
One of the deadliest animal illnesses in recent memory is WNS. Several hibernating North American bat species, including the little brown bat, have seen significant reductions as a result. The species, which was formerly the most prevalent bat in North America, has lost more than 90% of its population as a result of WNS. Finding innovative ways to counteract the negative effects of WNS is essential since bats are a vital component of healthy ecosystems.
Researchers wanted to know if the tiny brown bats would come to the artificial insect buffets where the bugs got attracted by light lures. The echolocation sounds and feeding buzzes that the bats made while foraging were recorded and counted to determine foraging activity.
They then compared these figures with those obtained from areas lacking insect buffets. According to the findings, bats were foraging at considerably greater rates in insect buffet locations than in those without.
These findings suggest that boosting the number of bugs accessible to bats close to their winter homes will benefit in the fight against WNS, according to Dr. Frick.
The issue of WNS in North American bats may be addressed with realistic and scalable conservation measures, according to Christian Newman, technical executive for endangered and protected species at the Electrical Power Research Institute.
This paper’s publication corresponds with bats getting ready to come out of hibernation. Long-term goals include creating insect buffets and assisting bats throughout their area to live close to places where they hibernate.
Winifred F. Frick et al. (2023). Bats increased foraging activity at experimental prey patches near hibernacula, Ecological Solutions and Evidence. DOI: 10.1002/2688-8319.12217