Man-made buildings may provide big benefits for bat conservation. Researchers from OU, UK, and the NPS studied little brown bats in Yellowstone NP to see where they roosted, and found that females roost in attics 84% of the time while males roost exclusively in rock crevices and trees.
When people evict bats from their homes, this is a concern because the bats must spend energy searching for a new place to roost. This can be fatal in the winter months, especially if bats are avoiding or suffering from White Nose Syndrome, which is a fungus that has been decimating bat populations across the continent. Roosting in buildings may provide enough heat and dryness to keep the disease away.
Pregnant females that roost in warm attics may also be more likely to regulate their body temperatures better, whereas colder temperature can slow gestation, which may force juveniles to mature quickly before the winter months.
The researchers believe that buildings help sustain large populations of little brown bats in the Yellowstone area. The lead study author said: “This warmth is important for bats during the summer months to help with their reproductive efforts. Bats surviving WNS and trying to recover might benefit from a warm roost tremendously.”