Taxonomy Helper

Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS)


    Kingdom: Animalia
    Division: Chordata
    Subdivision: Vertebrata
    Class: Mammalia
    Subclass: Theria
    Infraclass: Eutheria
    Order: Chiroptera

North American Bat Ranges Map Layer

Sample map.
[Image: National Atlas of the United States]

The North American Bat Ranges data set shows our current understanding of the distributions of the 45 United States and Canadian bat species and includes ranges that extend into Mexico. Descriptive information includes the scientific name and common name for each bat.

The North American Bat Ranges Map Layer was created by the U.S. National Atlas and Bat Conservation International.

Word Helper

Chiropterophily: pollination by bats.

Chiropterophilous: plants that are pollinated by bats.

Frugivore: an animal that feeds primarily on fruit.

Inflorescence: a characteristic arrangement of flowers on a stem.

Insectivore: an animal that feeds primarily on insects.

Nectarivore: an animal that feeds primarily on the nectar of flowering plants.

New World: refers collectively to the western hemisphere, specifically North and South America.

Bat Pollination

Wahlbergs epauletted fruit bat (Epomorphorus wahlbergii). Photo by Brock Fenton.
Wahlberg's epauletted fruit
bat, Epomorphorus
. Photo by Brock

Though most bats are insectivorous, many bats - frugivores and nectarivores - are important pollinators. Species in approximately 1/3 of bat genera visit flowers and eat nectar and pollen. Most nectar-feeding bats are fruit bats or flying foxes (Family: Pteropodidae), or leaf-nosed bats (Family: Phyllostomidae).

Bats are divided into two major taxonomic groups, Megachiroptera, which includes only the family Pteropodidae, and Microchiroptera, which includes Phyllostomidae and 17 other families. Nectarivorous bats also consume the insects they encounter while foraging on nectar or pollen. Bats are particularly important as pollinators in the tropics and subtropics, especially in Africa, southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

Bat pollinators are also important to some plants in the New World tropics, including the southwest United States. The lesser long-nosed bat ( Leptonycteris yerbabuenae ) and Mexican long-tongued bat ( Choeronycteris mexicana ) pollinate plants in Central America, Mexico, and the American southwest, including Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Plants pollinated by these bats include agave ( Agave spp.), saguaro ( Carnegiea gigantea ), and organpipe cactus ( Stenocereus thurberi ) in Arizona and cardon ( Pachycereus pringlei ) in Sonora, Mexico. Both of these bat species are federally protected as endangered in the United States. 

Flowers pollinated by bats are often described as having a strong, fruity or musky odor at night. Pollinating Megachiropteran bats, which lack echolocation, use visual and olfactory cues to locate flowers and fruits while foraging. Microchiropterans appear to use echolocation to find flowers from afar. Echolocation is the emittance of high pitched sounds that bounce off of objects and produce echoes, allowing the bats to judge the distance and size of objects in their path. The bats then use visual and/or olfactory cues as they approach the flowers. Bat-pollinated flowers are often white, cream-colored, or green, and rarely a purple or pink color. Some bat-pollinated flowers are described as a brush type or pincushion, such as a large flower with many stamens or an inflorescence of many clustered flowers with showy stamens and no petals. Other bat-pollinated flowers are large, wide-mouthed, and bell- or dish-shaped.

Pollination typically occurs when the bat pushes its head into a flower, brushing against a mass of pollen-bearing anthers as it reaches for nectar with its tongue. When the bat flies off to the next flower, it carries substantial pollen loads on its face and fur. Some bats hover while lapping nectar; others perch on a part of the plant or the flower itself. Bats may eat pollen, anthers, stamens, and other plant parts, as well as the nectar provided by the plant.

Please browse this section to find information on bat identification and bat-plant associations.

Bat (Chiroptera) Conservation and Management Resources
Showing 5 of 103 ( Show All )
Collapse2010 Cooperative White-Nose Syndrome Monitoring and Surveillance Plan for Tennessee (PDF, 31 pp., 1.77 MB)
Description: This white-nose syndrome surveillance and monitoring plan outlines work to be conducted by the cooperators from summer 2010 through the winter of 2010/2011. It is intended to be renewed annually. Federal, state, non-governmental, and university cooperators developed this plan to: Minimize the potential for monitoring and research projects to contribute to the spread of WNS; Continue the WNS surveillance began in 2009; Document the degree of mortality at WNS infected hibernacula.
Resource Type: Management Plans and Reports
Resource Format: PDF
Publisher: United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
ExpandAdopt a Bat
ExpandAlabama Inventory List
ExpandAttracting Bats (PDF, 2 pp., 443 KB)
ExpandBat Conservation International
Bat (Chiroptera) Monitoring Resources
Showing 5 of 19 ( Show All )
CollapseBat Inventory of the Point Loma Peninsula Including the Cabrillo National Monument
Description: From the site: "The US Geological Survey conducted a bat inventory on the Point Loma peninsula including the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego County, California from January to September of the year 2002 as part of an effort to begin an inventory/monitoring program of various plant and animal taxa on National Park Service lands. The techniques used to survey for bats during this study included 1) acoustic, including use of electronic broadband zero-crossing type bat detectors and audible listening for bats, 2) visual, including use of spotlights, 3) roost searches, and 4) mistnetting. During the 2002 bat inventory of the Point Loma peninsula four bat species were detected with varying confidence: the Western Red Bat (Lasiurus blossevillii), the Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus), the Mexican Free-tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis), and the Big Free-tailed Bat (Nyctinomops macrotis). Recommendations for management and long term monitoring of bats were made."
Resource Type: Monitoring Protocols
Resource Format: PDF
Publisher: Western Ecological Research Center, United States Geological Survey
ExpandBat Monitoring Protocol for the Ecological Monitoring Program in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona
ExpandBat Population Database
ExpandBat Species Richness and Abundance at the Chiricahua National Monument and Fort Bowie National Historic Site
ExpandBats Surveyed at Grand Canyon

White-Nose Syndrome (WNS)

Close up of hibernating bats in a Vermont cave.
[Photo: U.S. Geological Survey]

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a new wildlife disease devastating hibernating bat populations in the Northeastern U.S. Since March 2008, thousands of dead and dying bats at over 25 caves and mines in New York, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut have been discovered. Scientists hope to stop the spread of WNS to Canada and the U.S. Midwest and Southeast.

Report WNS observations to your state conservation agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the USGS National Wildlife Health Center.

USGS Bat Population Database

Publication Cover [Photo: U.S. Geological Survey]
[Photo: U.S. Geological Survey]

The U.S. Geological Survey Fort Collins Science Center's Bat Population Database (BPD) is a compilation of information that relates primarily to colony size estimates or similar data for bats in the U.S. and Territories.

Bat Population Database Resources:

Bullet point Monitoring trends in bat populations of the United States and territories [PDF, 9.31 MB]

Bullet point Species Search

Bullet point State Search

Bullet point Bibliographic Search

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