• Using mapping and quantification of ecosystem services to understand habitat threats to North and South American bat populations

      Sewall, Brent; Sorrentino, John A.; Temple University. Honors Program (Temple University. Libraries, 2020)
      Bats are crucial members of their ecosystems despite the common fears and misconceptions that many people believe. Their wide range of feeding types allows them to provide many effective ecosystem services through seed dispersal, pollination, and pest control, among others (Kunz et al., 2011). Frugivorous bats can disperse seeds over far distances and manage ecosystem regeneration (McConkey & Drake, 2006). Nectarivorous bats are key pollinators of many economically relevant plant species (Rapidel et al., 2011). Additionally, insectivorous bats save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in pest control costs while minimizing the use of potentially harmful pesticides (Cleveland et al., 2006). However, habitat change presents a severe threat to a multitude of bat species, their prey, and their homes. Threats to North and South American bat populations are ever increasing, but there are many viable solutions that have been presented and implemented on smaller scales in recent years. This thesis highlights the dangers of a variety of prominent habitat threats to bat populations including climate change, habitat fragmentation, wind turbines, habitat loss, and wildfires. Further, this project offers conservation solutions that have been suggested to combat these changes including bat box construction, prioritization of vulnerable species, compilation of big data on bat populations, and virtual training for conservationists. This thesis provides a comprehensive review of the current state of conservation as it pertains to bat response to habitat threats. Bats comprise 1,419 species and are found across many types of ecosystems over six continents (Simmons & Cirranello, 2020). Mapping these populations is a monumental task which can have significant outcomes for the study of bats and their conservation. Maps constructed for this project show relationships between bat species presence in North and Central America in relation to environmental variables and ecosystem services. These provide a framework for the analysis of ecosystem services provided by local bat species and can be used as a stepping-stone for estimating quantifications of these services.