How many bats are considered significant?

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How many bats are considered significant?

Postby David Grimes » Mar 31, 2010 2:47 pm

Just out of curiousity, how many bats would you consider makes a significant bat cave? Please don't read too far into this I am merely interested in what everyones interpretation is of a significant bat colony.
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Re: How many bats are considered significant?

Postby Phil Winkler » Mar 31, 2010 2:53 pm

In my opinion any cave where there are clusters of bats on the ceiling in one or more paces. All bats don't cluster, like pips, I think. So, over a hundred I think would be significant if it was a permanent colony.
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Re: How many bats are considered significant?

Postby Batgirl » Mar 31, 2010 3:38 pm

I believe the SCCI has semi-arbitrarily tried to define it as "more than 1000 of a non-threatened species, or more than 100 of a listed threatened or endangered species".

http://forums.caves.org/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=9507&start=30#p81524
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Re: How many bats are considered significant?

Postby driggs » Mar 31, 2010 6:45 pm

David Grimes wrote:Just out of curiousity, how many bats would you consider makes a significant bat cave? Please don't read too far into this I am merely interested in what everyones interpretation is of a significant bat colony.


I suspect that your question is either directly or indirectly related to the private message that Peter Youngbaer sent me, criticizing me for entering a "bat cave" during hibernation season, as he interpreted from this post of mine.

My reply to him was that Roadside Pit is not a "bat cave", despite the fact that it contains sparse Pips throughout. As hinted to in some of the above replies, I believe there is a bit of a double standard with regard to defining bat colonies, at least in the Appalachian region. Almost all caves here, at some point in the year, contain scattered Pips; I do not consider these "bat caves". Roadside Pit probably had 40 Pips scattered throughout its 2000 feet of passage, but no clusters and no other types of bats, and I wouldn't hesitate to go in there again (except for the news of WNS next door at Carpenter Pit).

We have a nearby cave with 30 to 40 hibernating Little Browns clustered in a single passage, and I do consider this a bat cave because of it; it is avoided all winter, so as not to disturb 40 bats at once. I'm not sure how few I would consider "a cluster", but if there were more than a dozen bats of any kind in a single place, I would avoid the area and/or cave.

If a cave had any Indianas or Virginia Big-Ears (both endangered), I would personally avoid it all winter.
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Re: How many bats are considered significant?

Postby tncaver » Mar 31, 2010 6:47 pm

Would it matter if the bats in a cave are in a location that is almost never visited or so remote that they are never seen?
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Re: How many bats are considered significant?

Postby hewhocaves » Mar 31, 2010 7:33 pm

driggs wrote: I believe there is a bit of a double standard with regard to defining bat colonies, at least in the Appalachian region. Almost all caves here, at some point in the year, contain scattered Pips; I do not consider these "bat caves".


Bat cave is probably a term like "planet". When the time comes to give it a specific definition, everyone has their own interpretation. My take on this would include information about the species' lifestyle, range and about a dozen other poorly understood components.

However, if we take the position that an 'endangered' species that inhabits any cave suddenly becomes a 'bat cave' then as the more common species' numbers dwindle, their remaining habitats will become 'bat caves' of necessity.


Alternatively, you can say a bat cave is any cave with 412.7 bats. That poor .7 of a bat :cry:


Edited to add:
Tncaver - I dont' see how human visitation makes a difference one way or another as to whether a cave is a bat cave, except that it brings attention to caves which might not otherwise have been considered at all.
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Re: How many bats are considered significant?

Postby NZcaver » Mar 31, 2010 8:11 pm

hewhocaves wrote:However, if we take the position that an 'endangered' species that inhabits any cave suddenly becomes a 'bat cave' then as the more common species' numbers dwindle, their remaining habitats will become 'bat caves' of necessity.

As I recall, this was the reasoning used by the Northeastern Cave Conservancy back in February 2008 when they closed their traditionally "non-bat" caves for the remainder of that winter. (Regular bat caves had already been closed for the winter, as usual.) A popular local cave which commonly sees visitors year-round was known at that time to host about 100 or so(?) common pips scattered throughout. The comment was made that under escalating WNS circumstances, those numbers could (and should) be considered a "significant" hibernaculum. At the time, most folks agreed it made good sense to close all those caves for the winter because they were all known to contain at least some bats.

As for just how many bats are considered significant... I guess that depends on who you talk to. :shrug:
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Re: How many bats are considered significant?

Postby wyandottecaver » Mar 31, 2010 8:45 pm

I agree that this is like the whole defining a cave for state survey purposes. It's all relative. Before WNS, the entire population of indiana bats in the whole of New York State was estimated around 40,000. In southern Indiana a single site can exceed that number.

In general, I consider the "old" 100,1000 rule from SCCI valid. While WNS might redefine "normal" in terms of bat numbers, I doubt running 500 boy scouts strung out on mtn dew and donuts through a WNS hibernacula in December will make 1 bit of difference to what happens to those bats in the long run. It might even prove an effective passive culling technique... a cave impacted by WNS is a deathtrap. Humans or not.

As for whether we should avoid ALL caves with ANY bats....its pissin on a forest fire IMHO.
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Re: How many bats are considered significant?

Postby David Grimes » Apr 1, 2010 10:10 am

driggs, my question has nothing to do with any particular cave or cavers. Like I said before I was merely curious what everyone thought. I know there is no predefined answer to this question and there are tons of variables but I figured a general figure would emerge. I find it surprising that so many sources have suggested a 100, whether endangered or not I really figured it would be more like 50-60 or more for most people. Thanks for providing your insight everyone.
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Re: How many bats are considered significant?

Postby PYoungbaer » Apr 1, 2010 2:42 pm

Dave,

For what it's worth, the Indiana bat's recovery program prioritizes hibernacula generally as follows:

Priority 1: 10,000 or more bats (most important)
Priority 2: 1000 or more (important)
Priority 3: 50-1000 (less important)
Priority 4: less than 50 (least important for recovery and long-term conservation of the species)

There are various descriptors, and some sub-classifications, which can be seen in the report at:

http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/recovery_plan/070416.pdf
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Re: How many bats are considered significant?

Postby eyecave » Apr 15, 2010 10:10 pm

it depends on who is asking the question...... :shrug: ....if it is mother nature it is undoubtedly the number one.............any bat currently alive could just happen to have the dna and the reproductive opportunity to survive wns.....that is one of those points you cannont argue against if you have even a high school level of science knowledge...... :kewl: .....course.......you would have had to be able to comprehend what you were exposed to in that course...... :yikes: ...kinda doubtful situation for me i guess...... :doh: ......anyway,

a caver would want a number of bats........or batnumbs that would keep most caves open.......especially their personal favorites.... :tonguecheek:

the batologists.... :down: ....or current wns spreaders and stressors :shhh: would want to study the hibernating bats more intensely and from now onto extinction to justify all the other things and, if pressed, they would say that some arbitrary hundreds figure would be the "acceptable number"....although some of the more conservative among them might feel that several dozen would be enough.......their numbers vary because they are not mother nature............and, always be aware that many of them don't realize that they don't know things better than nature does........ :laughing: ...

farmers are calculating the ways to offset increased chemical costs.... :bananabat: ....

swallows are stretching their throats and learning to build heavier nests to accomadate fatter mama birds......

dow jones is researching patents for something that dissolves nitrogen and not glass............

and cave politicians are trying to appeal to all three wns caver attitude groups and deal with the scientists.......
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Re: How many bats are considered significant?

Postby tncaver » Apr 15, 2010 10:31 pm

Every bat is significant. However, every bat that is seen by cavers is not in danger of catching WNS. They are much more in danger when
a fellow bat comes to visit.
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