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Nearly one-third of bat species in North America are on the decline

14 / 08 / 2017, Mongabaycom News

Bats have not historically been a focus of much conservation effort, but starting around 1985, conservationists in Canada and the United States began working to limit human access to bat caves in response to widespread declines in cave-roosting species. Those efforts were seen as largely successful, as populations of species such as the gray bat (Myotis grisescens) and the Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) showed signs of recovery by the turn of the century. But a new study published in the journal Biological Conservation this month finds that those conservation gains have been all but reversed over the past decade and a half. Scientists with NatureServe, an international biodiversity conservation NGO, looked at the conservation status of the 45 species of bat that occur in North America north of Mexico. Using a methodology for assessing conservation status developed by NatureServe, the researchers determined that, as of 2015, more than 30 percent of the species included in the study qualified as vulnerable, imperiled, or critically imperiled. “We used historical conservation status assessments spanning the past 30 years to determine how status has changed over time,” the authors of the study write. “The results provide a continent-wide snapshot of priorities for action and highlight gaps in our knowledge of bat conservation.” Some eight species, or 18 percent of North American bats, are at risk of extinction, according to the study, with a further six species, or 13 percent, potentially at risk — making bats one of the most threatened groups of terrestrial vertebrates…

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