- November 17, 2021
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject – Science and Tech
Context – A world with fewer bats around is one that has failed to understand the critical role they play in ecosystems
- Bats are the largest mammalian group after rodents, with over 1,300 species making up a quarter of all mammals.
- They occur on all continents except Antarctica and are particularly diverse in South Asia, with 114 species of insect-eating bats and 14 fruit bats, also known as “flying foxes”, occurring in India.
- They roost in large colonies on trees, tree hollows, caves, rock crevices and abandoned manmade structures.
- They play a unique role in maintaining ecosystem structure, making a singular contribution to our food production, economy and well-being.
- They are the only mammals capable of true flight and have a unique sonar-based echolocation mechanism to capture prey at night.
Their Significance –
- Seed dispersal – The diet of fruit-eating bats consists largely of flowers and fruits such as mangoes, bananas, guavas, custard apples, figs, tamarind and many species of forest trees.
- Pollination – Studies have found that bats play a vital role in pollination, mainly of large-flowered plants, and in crop protection.
- Production boost – Some large insectivorous bats are also reported to feed on small rodents.
- Soil fertility – Bat droppings provide organic input to soil and facilitate nutrient transfer, contributing to soil fertility and agricultural productivity.
- Health benefits – contribute to human health by reducing populations of mosquitoes and other insect vectors that spread malaria, dengue, chikungunya and other diseases.
Why do bats never fall sick?
- Bats are reservoirs for viruses, but they never fall sick.
- Flying results in toxic by-products that could damage cell contents.
- Bats have evolved mechanisms to avoid such damage by suppressing their immune systems.
- According to the IUCN, about 5 per cent of bats are categorised as endangered and another 11 per cent are data deficient.
- Further, some species of fruit bats are categorised under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1973, along with other vermin species like rats, making it difficult to legally conserve them.