Pollution

By NABCANABCA, on 17 Mar 2017 06:13

Threat Description

The impact of noise, light, water, and air pollution on bats and bat habitat. This includes the associated impacts of water quality such as insect prey abundance and diversity, as well as the potential toxicity impacts of drinking contaminated water. Potential impacts include the impact of municipal waste and household sewage discharge on water quality, the impact of industrial, military, and mining effluents on water quality, the impact of nutrient loading and chemical runoff from agriculture on water quality, the impact of artificial lighting on foraging activity and prey insect diversity and abundance, the impact of ultrasound and other noise sources on the foraging ecology of bats and the impact of thermal water pollution (from power plant discharges or other sources) on prey insect diversity and abundance.

Perceived Importance of this Threat

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Noise Pollution

There has been relatively little research on the impacts of noise pollution on bat activity. Although controlled studies have shown bats adjust their echolocation calls in the presence of high intensity noise bursts (Jarvis et al. 2010), it is unclear what impact noise pollution on the landscape has on bats.

Light Pollution

Ecological light pollution evaluates the role of artificial lighting on the natural patterns of light and dark in ecosystems; this includes both the impact of street lights and industrial lighting (Longcore and Rich 2004). Bat biologists have primarily focused on the impact of artificial lights on the foraging ability of insectivorous bats. This research generally finds that artificial lighting increases bat species diversity and total bat activity (Adams et al. 2005). This is particularly true for aerial hawking moth-specialists that prefer to forage in open habitats, such as the red bat (Lasiurus borealis) and hoary bat (L. cinereus: Fenton 2002). In the context of commuting corridors, artificial lights appear to negatively impact the use of travel corridors by bats (Stone et al. 2009), with some species adjusting both the commuting height and flight speed in the presence of artificial lights (Polak et al. 2011).
Some studies have even suggested that bat species may be dramatically altering their foraging behavior in the presence of artificial lighting. For example, Rydell (1991) suggested that Eptesicus nilssonii become territorial under street lamps (Rydell 1991). Another study found that Nyctalus noctule primarily foraged over water in natural habitats, but spent up to 75% of their foraging time in parking lots and roadways when artificial lighting was present (Rydell and Racey 1995).
The positive impact of artificial lighting on foraging bats has been primarily focused on mercury vapor lamps (MVL), which emit UV light that attracts insect prey (Blake et al. 1994). However, the conversion to green lighting technologies (such as high-pressure sodium (HPS) and LED lighting systems) has the potential to negatively impact bat communities that have adapted to these concentrated food resources (Stone et al. 2012). Because HPS and LED lighting systems do not emit light in the UV spectrum, they do not appear to attract insects in the same manner as MV lights.

Heavy Metals

Bats as bioindicators of heavy metal pollution: history and prospect (Zukal et al. 2015)
Reduction of metal exposure of Daubenton’s bats (Myotis daubentonii) following remediation of pond sediment as evidenced by metal concentrations in hair (Flache et al. 2016)

Mitigation Measures

Challenges/Barriers to Addressing this Threat

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