A lesser long-nosed bat
A lesser long-nosed bat

“People have no idea how many bats are flying around here in Tucson,” says biologist Sandy Wolf. In an Arizona Senior Academy lecture scheduled for Thursday (July 16) at 3:30 p.m., Wolf will give an overview of the bat species that reside in our area and explain why bats don’t deserve the poor image they have with so many of us.

Wolf has studied bats, some forming colonies in the thousands that live under bridges, house eaves and caves and mines around Tucson. Recently she has been monitoring the nectar-feeding bats that visit our backyard hummingbird feeders. She will share her current and past research projects and her findings.

Bats provide a huge service to the environment. They eat a multitude of insect pests, consuming up to 2,000 mosquito-sized insects in one night. They also pollinate many plants and disperse seeds. In the Sonoran Desert, nectar-feeding bats are the primary means of pollinating saguaros.

Sandy Wolf, right, holds an endangered lesser long-nosed bat as a fellow mammalogist, Sherry Daugherty, feeds the bat sugar water.
Sandy Wolf, right, holds an endangered lesser long-nosed bat as a fellow mammalogist, Sherry Daugherty, feeds the bat sugar water.

Despite all the positive contributions made by bats to the environment, they remain largely misunderstood. And this lack of knowledge may well lead to their extinction. Wolf says the biggest threat locally is people who vandalize bat roosts or kill them out of fear or ignorance. Because bats live in large colonies and reproduce slowly, a single act of vandalism can destroy thousands of bats and leave them vulnerable to extinction. Fifty percent of American bat species are in serious decline or on the endangered species list. Wolf will address local bat conservation efforts.

Wolf has a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science and a M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Arizona. She became interested in bats while working for Arizona Game and Fish Department. She presently works as an independent researcher and consultant.

Written by Priscilla Moore, Academy Village Volunteer

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Bats, Our Misunderstood Neighbors: July 2015
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