It’s bat week this week, and we’re celebrating with a quiz all about our lovely winged relatives. Bats are some of the most fascinating and diverse groups of mammals, the only mammals to live on every continent on earth (except Antarctica) bats fly using wings that are highly adapted hands.
Think you know all about our echolocating friends? Test your knowledge with this quiz then read the research behind the questions!
Finished the quiz?
Check out the research behind the answers here!
How many species of bats are there in the world?
What percentage of all bat species are classified are threatened? (classified by the IUCN as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered)
Information from www.iucnredlist.org
What is the estimated monetary value that bats provide to ecosystems through their control of pest insects?
The valuable service as voracious predators of insects, including pest species is often overlooked. Read ‘Economic Importance of Bats in Agriculture‘ by Boyles et al to find out more!
Which bats live in highly social groups and regurgitate food to feed other members who have not fed?
Vampire bats display reciprocal food sharing with conspecifics, even those that are not related to them. Read this fascinating keystone research by Wilkinson et al here.
How many species of plants are dispersed or pollinated by bats?
Bats have a diverse and wide range of ecological benefits, read ‘Bats and their vital ecosystem services: a global review‘ by Ramirez-Francel et al to find out more!
What is the main cause of a large decline in bats in North America?
White-nose syndrome is caused by a pathogenic fungus that presents as a characteristic white fuzz on the bats’ noses. Read ‘Ecology and impacts of white-nose syndrome on bats‘ by Hoyt et al to find out more.
How does long-distance bat migration differ to songbird migration?
Bats have much shorter stopoffs on their migrations than songbirds, perhaps because they go into a state of torpor to quickly recover energy. Read McGuire et al‘s paper in Journal of Animal Ecology on the migration of silver-haired bats here.
How does mercury contamination affect bat’s immune systems?
Mercury contamination has conflicting and complex impacts on the immune systems of bats, read Becker et al‘s Journal of Applied Ecology paper where they attempt to detangle this mystery.
How can bats protect themselves against mortality from white-nose syndrome?
White-nose syndrome causes bats to wake more frequently from hibernation, burning through previous energy reserves as they do. In Cheng et al‘s 2019 paper in Journal of Animal Ecology they found that high fat reserves help to reduce mortality.
Which of the above bats has such impressive hearing that it can hunt scorpions by following the sound of their footsteps?
Pallid bats are specialist scorpion hunters, with immunity to scorpion venom as well as the ability to hear their footsteps moving over the sand. Watch this video of the pallid bat in action here: BBC Two: The scorpion-hunting pallid bat
Insects jamming bat’s echolocation
A chorus of ultrasonic insect sounds aims to ‘jam’ bat’s ability to echolocate and hunt, but in an evolutionary arms race, bats appear to be mostly undeterred by the cacophony produced by other ultrasonic calls. Check out Sedlock et al’s 2021 research here “A phantom ultrasonic insect chorus repels low-flying bats, but most are undeterred“