Have you ever squeezed into a hollow tree in the rain forest? Me neither. But MTBC’s digital/social media coordinator, Teresa Nichta, followed Merlin into just such a tree during our recent field work in Trinidad searching for… hey, let’s hear the story from Teresa and make sure you watch the video at the end!
“Great, you’re finally here! Come on, we’re going hunting for katydids,” Merlin says. It’s nearly 11pm and I drop my bags, strap on my headlight and spray bug repellent on the brand new boots I’d been wearing since I boarded the plane in Texas for Trinidad.
In Merlin Tuttle’s blogged report titled, Ebola: Bats Prematurely Blamed, released on January 15, 2016, he summarized available knowledge of Ebola related to bats. He reported a prime example of extraordinarily biased sampling combined with premature speculation that had become entrenched as “fact” without the backing of credible scientific data. (more…)
Ebola: Bats Prematurely Blamed By Merlin Tuttle 1/14/16
If public health concerns were based on actual threats to human mortality, diseases speculated to be spread by bats would take a distant back seat. Even our beloved dogs are many times more dangerous than bats (1). Real killers, like consumption of over processed and contaminated foods dwarf any risks associated with animals (2).
Yet we squander millions of scarce public health dollars on witch hunts for rare diseases in bats, when those funds could save far more human lives if spent on reducing already proven killers such as obesity and environmental toxicants linked to escalating rates of cancer, heart disease, dementia and diabetes.
In recent years speculation linking scary diseases to bats has gained unprecedented media headlines and grants.
We would like to highlight a recent study of exceptional importance to all who care about conserving bats. As one who has long promoted the potential benefits of attracting bats to artificial roosts, Merlin is especially pleased with the publication of a recent multi-year study documenting the successful attraction of thousands of bats to small, inexpensive bat houses, leading to well documented reduction of rice pests below threshold levels that require use of chemical pesticides.
The study titled, Pest control service provided by bats in Mediterranean rice paddies,appeared in the journal Mammalian Biology and is available for free download at researchgate.net.
The researchers report that properly located bat houses were readily occupied by soprano pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), and that as numbers increased damage from rice borer moths (Chilo supressalis) fell sufficiently to eliminate further need for chemical pesticides. They additionally note that the cost of putting up bat houses was 6-8 times less than that of relying on chemical treatments. These authors also provide an invaluable summary of current knowledge of bat values to agriculture. There are numerous opportunities to expand on this pioneering research which is urgently needed. We deeply appreciate the help of Adrià López-Baucells and Oriol Massana Valeriano in providing outstanding photographic documentation of this project.
Here’s contact info for ADRIÀ LÓPEZ BAUCELLS PhD student on Bat Ecology and Conservation
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute – Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia Lisbon University – cE3c Museu de Ciències Naturals de Granollers
PERSONAL PAGE PhD Project Site Portuguese Research Group Site Natural Science Museum of Granollers