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Little Brown Bat

Facts

  • Scientific name: Myotis lucifugus
  • Habitat: North America
  • Conservation status: Endangered
  • Threat to existence: Invasive fungus P. destructans
  • Fun fact: During hibernation, their heart beats as few times as 8 times a minute!

Additional source: Wikipedia

Image source: Mackinac Parks

The title of this chapter featuring our furry winged friends is “The New Pangea.” It refers to the idea that humans have broken down the geographic barriers that have existed for millions of years (since Pangea broke apart), and that evolution has had to navigate around, namely separate continents distanced by oceans or other geography of note. This continental isolation is no more because of humanity’s ability to transport anything anywhere. Remember our chapter 1 friends the Golden Frogs? They were victims of this new normal. And unfortunately the Little Brown Bat has an eerily similar story.

North American bat species are dying off at an alarming rate. The general trend is that the major threat to bats, and ecosystems as a whole, is invasive species. In the case of the Little Brown Bat, the invasive species is P. destructans, another lethal fungus. The fungus irritates the hibernating bats and accelerates their metabolism, rousing them from their slumber in the middle of winter, and eventually they die of starvation.

Invasive and introduced species is a global phenomenon. If you were to go outside and look around, in most cases the majority of wildlife you will see is not native to where you are. And so another new rule has been introduced to the game of evolution. Yes, it is true that many invasive species are harmless and die out before their presence is even noticed but every once in a while you will have one species that is able to take root so to speak and flourish at the expense of the native ones. The Little Brown Bat was once considered commonplace, but now they are endangered. As you look about and ponder which species you see belong, and which do not, think also about which ones, seemingly benign, are in fact parasites.

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