Bats inhabit all continents of the world, except Antarctica, and are the only true flying mammal. Australia is home to 90 of the 950 different bat species. Bats belong to the order Chiroptera, and within this larger group there are two sub-orders – the Megachiroptera (Megabats) and the Microchiroptera (Microbats).
Lone Pine's bats
Bats are vital to maintain diversity
This sub-order includes Flying-foxes, Tube-nosed Fruit Bats and Blossom Bats. Megabats are fruit and nectar eating animals that navigate and find food using sight and smell. These animals are highly intelligent and play a vital role in the out-crossing of pollen and seed dispersal throughout the forests of Australia. It is estimated that a single Flying-fox can disperse up to 60,000 seeds in one night. Without bats, forests may become genetically weak, have less diversity in the number of species and most likely would not survive many generations.
These small bats are mainly insectivorous, using echolocation to navigate and feed. Like the megabats, microbats have an important role in the management of ecosystems as they consume thousands of insects in one night. Microbats are capable of eating their own body weight in insects each and every night. They are excellent natural managers of moths and mosquitoes, therefore without microbats, insect populations would become enormous. Although most microbats are insectivores, there are also some carnivorous species such as the Ghost Bat.