Bat Conservation

Bats are essential members of many types of ecosystems, and by fulfilling their ecological roles they promote biodiversity and support ecosystem health. They play an important role in pest control, pollinating plants, and dispersing seeds. It is estimated that by eating insects, bats save U.S. agriculture billions of dollars per year in pest control. Over 300 fruit species alone depend on bats for pollination!
Bat populations have been declining in North America for decades. Human activities, such as urbanization and conversion of land to agriculture, have reduced roost sites and foraging habitat for bats. Pesticide use also affects bat populations by killing the insects upon which many bats feed, and human disturbance during hibernation have proven detrimental for bat populations. In San Diego County, 23 species of bats have been recorded, and eight of those are California Species of Special Concern. The Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) and pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus) were once widespread throughout San Diego County, but both are now listed as California Species of Special Concern. 
Townsend's Big-Eared Bat
This medium-sized bat with very long ears is sensitive to light and movement and if disturbed during the day the entire group may take flight and even abandon a roost or nest site. They occur throughout the west in a wide variety of habitats ranging from sea level to 3,300 meters. Their numbers have declined dramatically because of the loss of roosting sites and human disturbances.
Pallid Bat
While most bat species eat flying insects or flower nectar, pallid bats hunt ground-dwelling animals such as crickets, scorpions, ground beetles, grasshoppers, and even lizards and rodents. This behavior makes them vulnerable to predation by other animals, as well as habitat loss due to urban development, agricultural expansion, and pesticide use. Loss of roosting areas, human disturbances, and pesticide use have resulted in a sharp decline in this species. 
Bat photos courtesy of Drew Stokes. Thank you, Drew! Pallid bat photo was taken pre-WNS protocols and handled by a professional with rabies vaccinations.

What is Earth Discovery Institute doing?

EDI led the Bat Hotel Project at El Monte Preserve, providing a long-term roosting site for locally declining bat species, including Townsend’s big-eared bat, and pallid bat. EDI partnered with Endangered Habitats Conservancy to build the bat hotel at El Monte Preserve, which is an ideal site as it contains a pond that holds water year-round, and flat open areas where bats can forage.  EDI is also currently undertaking a 15-acre cactus scrub restoration project at El Monte Preserve, which is known to be preferred habitat for pallid bats.
Drew Stokes, Wildlife Biologist and local bat expert for the San Diego Natural History Museum, conducts bat monitoring at El Monte Preserve, and has revealed 13 bat species, including five species listed as California Species of Special Concern, are already present at El Monte Preserve. De Boer Engineering built the roosting structure and coordinated closely with Drew and EDI staff to ensure it is long-lasting, low-maintenance, and cost-efficient. Our expectation is that the “bat hotel” will serve as a prototype for additional roosting structures to be installed on suitable preserves throughout the county, contributing to the long-term recovery of bats across the landscape.
EDI also led community events at El Monte Preserve, where participants had the opportunity to visit the Bat Hotel, participate in bat monitoring, and learn about our local bat species!
Funding support for this project has been generously provided by SANDAG TransNet Environmental Mitigation Program.

What can you do to help?

Attend our Bat Events  - You will learn about the ecological importance and conservation of bats, partake in bat monitoring, and visit our bat hotel.
Minimize the use of pesticides in your garden - When you limit the use of pesticides there is more food for bats, a single bat can eat up to 3,000 insects in a single night, and they feed on many pest species.
Do not disturb bats - Avoid caves and mines where bats are hibernating in winter. When disturbed during hibernation bats may become active and use up their fat reserves, resulting on starvation.
Turn off unnecessary lights - Light pollution can deter and disrupt bats, by providing a dark environment you can help bats.
Surround your home with native vegetation - A native garden attracts insects that pollinate plants and feed bats.
Volunteer with us - We are always looking for volunteers to support our conservation and restoration projects on protected lands.
Donate or become an EDI member!
Do you manage a preserve and want to install your own bat hotel? Visit the link below to download a PDF of plans to build a replica of the EDI bat hotel.

Our bat hotel consists of 16 panels; each panel can support 200 bats, so the bat hotel has a capacity of 3,200 bats!

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