There are more than 1,300 species of bats – or almost a quarter of the world's mammal species. But before you shrink in fear from these furry "creatures of the night," consider the bat's fundamental role in our ecosystem. A single brown bat can eat several thousand insects in a night. Bats also pollinate and disperse the seeds for many of the plants we love, from bananas to mangoes and figs. Bats: A World of Science and Mystery presents these fascinating nocturnal creatures in a new light. Lush, full-color photographs portray bats in flight, feeding, and mating in views that show them in exceptional detail. The photos also take the reader into the roosts of bats, from caves and mines to the tents some bats build out of leaves. A comprehensive guide to what scientists know about the world of bats, the book begins with a look at bats' origins and evolution.
Bats: A World of Science and Mystery goes on to address a host of questions related to flight, diet, habitat, reproduction, and social structure: Why do some bats live alone and others in large colonies? When do bats reproduce and care for their young? How has the ability to fly – unique among mammals – influenced bats' mating behavior? A chapter on biosonar, or echolocation, takes readers through the system of high-pitched calls bats emit to navigate and catch prey. More than half of the world's bat species are either in decline or already considered endangered, and Bats: A World of Science and Mystery concludes with suggestions for what we can do to protect these species for future generations to benefit from and enjoy.
From the tiny "bumblebee bat" – the world's smallest mammal – to the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox, whose wingspan exceeds five feet, Bats: A World of Science and Mystery presents a panoramic view of one of the world's most fascinating yet least-understood species.
Chapter 1: It's a Bat! 6
Chapter 2: Ancient Bats 36
Chapter 3: Taking Off 60
Chapter 4: How Bats See with Sound 80
Chapter 5: What Bats Eat 102
Chapter 6: Where Bats Hang Out 130
Chapter 7: Life Histories of Bats 156
Chapter 8: Behavior of Bats 182
Chapter 9: Bats and Disease 204
Chapter 10: Bats and People 224
Chapter 11: Conservation of Bats 246
Chapter 12: What's Next in Bats 266
Annotated Bibliography 284
Index of Bat Names 288
Melville Brock Fenton is professor in and chair of the Department of Biology at the University of Western Ontario. He is the author or editor of several books, including Bat Ecology, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
Nancy B. Simmons is curator-in-charge of the Department of Mammalogy at the American Museum of Natural History, where she is also professor in the Richard Gilder Graduate School.