Bats live in a variety of places—trees, caves, old mines and usually near water. Different species of bats survive in different ecosystems, but a variety of factors are actually reducing the amount of natural places for bats to live.
Ecologists frequently use the term "habitat loss" when describing threats to many forms of wildlife—not just bats. Habitat loss means a particular species has less and less of the natural spaces and resources available that they've depended upon in past to survive and thrive. Several things can cause habitat loss. These are examples of just a few:
- Destruction – Probably the most well known type of habitat loss, destruction happens when important habitats for shelter or prey for bats are removed. Cutting down trees, development of open spaces for roads or buildings, and draining wetlands all reduce natural habitat for wildlife, including bats. Another form of destruction happens when land is converted to farming or other human uses.
- Fragmentation – This happens when roads, farms, cities, and other development divide land. A space that used to be wide open and connected to other wide open spaces may now be isolated. This form of habitat loss is especially dangerous to bats and other migratory animals because it makes their traditional travel paths disappear or become more dangerous, with less food and shelter available along the way.
- Degradation – Unfortunately, some chemicals and other factors can cause an area to be unhealthy for bats and other wildlife, reducing the amount of appropriate areas for them to live. This can be a result of pesticide use, light pollution, or contaminated water, for example. Invasive species can also drastically change a natural ecosystem and make areas unlivable for some wildlife.