Bat Species in the Bahamas: Changes Over Time

Did you know there are only 15 species
of mammals in the Bahamas and 10 of those are bats? Bats play an incredibly important
role on these islands. Factors such as climate change and predators
threaten bats so scientists have traveled to the Bahamas to learn more about
how to keep these bat populations alive. Gradual changes in the earth’s
temperature have caused sea levels to rise and fall which has had dramatic effect
on low-lying islands such as the Bahamas. When sea levels were lower, more
land was exposed, creating a few really large islands. This provided more habitat
for plants and animals. Today sea level is much higher, which means only the
highest points of land are above sea level, creating the 700 islands and keys
we know today. These drastic changes in island size caused habitats in the
Bahamas to change, and some bats became extinct. Today there are only half
as many species of bats found in the Bahamas as there used to be. Scientists worry that if bat roosts are disrupted or destroyed these bats will have nowhere to go
and they, too, may become extinct. Bats are really important. They
help pollinate flowers, spread plant seeds and eat tons of pesky insects.
Scientists are using genetics to study where and how the bats live. They hope to
protect them for future generations. Most people don’t get to see these bats up
close, and the way they flit around can make them seem scary. But bats are
actually kind of cute and they have an important role to play in the
environment. So we can all play a part in helping protect them.

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