Bat Study

Saint Louis Zoo researchers are trying to determine which of Missouri's 14 bat species are using the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park. If threatened or endangered species are identified, they will then look at whether the bats roost here, in what areas, and how they can be best protected.

Important First Step

Identifying what species are present on the property is an important first step in making informed decisions about future property uses, including collection planning and management, native wildlife corridor management, habitat management and restoration, and educational program development in terms of property design and use.

Animals

Acoustic night recordings identified five bat species in 2020:

  • Big brown bat
  • Red bat
  • Gray bat (endangered species)
  • Hoary bat
  • Tri-colored bat

Scientific Methods

Bats hibernate in the winter, so population surveying must take place between May 15 and August 15. With guidance by regional bat experts, nighttime acoustic surveys were conducted from May 15 through June 2, 2020, using specialized sound recording devices.

The health, safety and psychological well-being of the animals in this study are priorities for Zoo researchers. Only non-invasive monitoring methods were used during this study to determine species identification and population estimates.

Conservation

Globally, there are almost 1,000 different kinds of bats, which comprise nearly one-quarter of all mammal species. Missouri is home to 14 species of bats. Worldwide, many bat populations are declining at an alarming rate. Several of Missouri's species of bat are considered in danger of extinction at a state and/or federal level.

Many bat species around the world are vulnerable or endangered due to factors ranging from loss and fragmentation of habitat, diminished food supply, destruction of roosts, disease and hunting or killing of bats.

Bats have a bad reputation that is undeserved. Bats provide humans with numerous important services. In southern parts of the world, bats pollinate many kinds of plants, including bananas, mangos, figs, cashews, dates, peaches, cocoa and many other food crops. In the Midwest, insect-eating bats provide invaluable pest control services to agricultural farmers by consuming millions of crop and produce-eating insects. Bats also benefit city-dwellers by consuming tons of pest insects, including mosquitoes and spiders.