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Bat conservation is a term describing the efforts of concerned individuals to help bolster threatened bat populations worldwide. According to experts, bats have been threatened for a lot of reasons, including habitat destruction, pesticide use, and disease. In order to protect bats, people have done everything from passing laws to protect their habitats, to researching threats to the bat population, to teaching people about bats in an effort to generate public support for conservation.
There are many different kinds of bats around the world, and many of them have completely different diets, resulting in very different ecosystem roles. For example, many bats primarily serve as insect predators, while others may eat fruit, serving the ecosystem by spreading seeds and keeping the forests healthy. In most cases, experts believe that many of these roles could not necessarily be filled by other animals if the bats where to become extinct, and some experts think that the potential consequences of such an occurrence may be extremely severe. Concerns about these dangers are one of the main driving forces behind many bat conservation efforts.
Some bats live in trees while others live in caves, and the biggest threat to bats is generally habitat destruction. Sometimes habitat destruction hurts bats directly, by destroying the places where they live, while in other cases, it may be more indirect. For example, when people destroy swamplands and other areas where insects breed in large numbers, the reduction in insect population can lead to food shortages for bats. Another problem is that some cave dwelling bats also live inside old buildings, and when those buildings are torn down, the bats lose their homes. There have even been bat conservation laws passed in some areas, placing restrictions on the destruction of any building that bats use as a shelter, and some people set up small bat shelters on their personal properties to help make up for these habitat losses.
Another major threat to bats is a fungal infection known as white nose syndrome, and many bat conservation efforts are devoted to gaining a better understanding of the disease. White nose syndrome leads to a fungal growth on various body areas including the mouth, and it can cause bats to leave their nests during hibernation season, ultimately leading to starvation and death. Some experts think that human cavers might be primarily responsible for the rapid spread of this fungus, although this isn't necessarily a certainty. Some experts have suggested that people should avoid caves until the disease is better understood, while others have simply urged people to never wear the same clothes into two different caves.
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