The Indiana bat is an endangered species that exists in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It was first listed in 1967 primarily due to episodes of human disturbance during hibernation killing large numbers of bats. Indiana bats are extremely vulnerable to disturbance because they hibernate in large numbers in only a few caves (the largest hibernation caves support from 20,000 to 50,000 bats) (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,2011) .
Indiana bats are very small. This species only weighs one-quarter of an ounce (about the weight of three pennies) although in flight they have a wingspan of 9 to 11 inches. The fur of the Indiana Bat is dark-brown to black. They hibernate during winter in caves or, occasionally, in abandoned mines. During the summer months they roost under the peeling bark of dead and decaying trees. Indiana bats eat a variety of flying insects found along rivers or lakes and in uplands (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011).
Metabolic Processes- “The diet of Indiana bats is made up of small insects with soft bodies, but may also include moths and beetles. At the end of the summer, the bats change from eating insects with soft bodies to insects with hard bodies” (BioKIDS, 2011). This shows that the Indiana bat is capable of nutrient uptake, processing, and waste elimination. This organism has an animal cell which allows it to store energy. Generative Processes- the Indiana bat is a mammal which reproduces through sexual reproduction and provides young with milk. The Indiana bat mates in the fall, but does not become pregnant until the spring when the hibernation period is over (BioKIDS, 2011). The gestation process is about 60 days and the female only gives birth to one offspring each year. Responsive Processes- the Indiana bat’s fur color ranges from black to light brown depending on the specific location of habitat. The fur color allows them to blend in in forest habitats and caves. When alarmed and for general communication purposes the Indiana bat communicates with a range of sounds. These bats are “cluster” bats and travel in groups for protection. Control Processes- because the Indiana bat is classified as a living organism it does engage in control processes. Structural Processes- the Indiana bat contains animal cells, organ systems, tissues and carries out all four of the life processes.
The Indiana bat does have specialized structures that allow them to thrive and survive. The eyes of all bats are well adapted to low illumination, having mainly rod-based retinas, large corneal surfaces and lenses, and generally large receptor fields. Bats can easily detect small differences in brightness on clear nights, and the visual acuity remains relatively good in dim illuminations (Johan Eklof, 2006). The sonar abilities and wings of the bat are also specialized structures that allow this animal to survive. Their specific wing design allows them to fly and live in cave environments, sonar abilities allow them to communicate and be warned of predators.
Specific Traits of the Indiana Bat: The size of the feet and the length of the toe hairs are characteristics used to differentiate the Indiana bat from other bats (Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011). The specific wing design, size, and call of the Indiana bat are also considered genetic traits. The Indiana Bat interestingly enough only mates within its own species. Conditions that may prevent survival: The Indiana Bat is in great danger especially today in the 21st century of a disease called White Nose Syndrome. This disease is not genetic and kills mass amounts of hibernating bats.
Where does theIndiana Bat call home?Biome: Temperate DeciduousForest. Midwest, Eastern Areasof the U.S. Indiana, Kentucky,Virginia, Tennessee.Ecosystem/Habitat: Caves anddead and/or hollowed outtrees. The Indiana Bat’s role inits environment is to keep theecosystem’s carrying capacityof insects within a health range.The females live in colonies,carry, birth, and nurse theyoung; while males tend to leadsolitary lives.Place in the Food Chain: TheIndiana Bat is a consumer;more specifically a insecticalcarnivore. Feeding mainly onnight time insects such asmosquitoes.
EnvironmentalChanges and Threatsto the Indiana BatThe Indiana Bat is a cave dwellingspecies that is currently sufferingfrom a highly contagious diseasereferred to as White NoseSyndrome. Due to this disease,budget cuts in the nation’snational forests as well asdeforestation and changes inclimate in the Midwest andEastern portion of the U.S. theIndiana Bat population is rapidlydecreasing in numbers andrelocating in habitats that are notfamiliar to them.In order to protect this species ofbats certain areas of caves andabandon mines have beendesignated as a “critical habitat”and closed to humans other thanenvironmental officials. (U.S. Fishand Wildlife Service, 2011).
White Nose Syndrome: An illness that has killed over a million bats since 2006 when dead and dying bats, with the distinctive "white nose," were first observed. "White nose" refers to a ring of white fungus often seen on the faces and wings of affected bats. First observed in a cave in New York in February 2006, white-nose syndrome has since spread from New York caves to caves in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Bats afflicted with white-nose syndrome have been found in over 25 caves and mines in the northeastern U.S. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has called for a moratorium on caving activities in the affected areas, and strongly recommends that any clothing or equipment used in such areas be decontaminated after each use (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011). What’s the Controversy? Many national parks and states affected do not have the financial resources to really move forward with protecting these bats and finding the root to of the White Nose problem. In addition, many outdoorsman do not agree with closing caves, mines, and areas where bats have been found with White Nose.
Click the link below to view a video on White Nose Syndrome: http://www.cavebiota.com/ Click on “The Battle for the Bats: White Nose Syndrome.”
Biokids.Com (2011). University of Michigan. http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Myotis_sodalis/. Cave Biota (2011). Hoosier National Forest & Indiana Karst Conservancy. Accessed on: 10-10-11. http://www.cavebiota.com/ Eklof, Johan. (2003-2006). Vision in Echolocating Bats. http://fladdermus.net/thesis.htm. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2011). Accessed on: 9-27-11. http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/mammals/inba/index.html. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2011). Indiana Division Accessed on: 9-27-11. http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/mammals/inba/index.html.