Oct 7, 201209:00 AMPoint of View
Architecture for Bats
Photo courtesy of PopSci.com, photo by Paul Kingsbury of The Nature ConservancyWhile it seems more bunker then bat fungus cure, this man-made bat cave is just the start of the battle against white-nose. The picture above shows the human entrance to the winter hibernation cave, so once the bats leave in the spring, people will clean and disinfect to prevent the spread of white-nose. The cave is designed for bat hibernation, as the structure creates a cold air trap, a pocket of air with a low level of exchange that protects bats from drastic temperature changes. The concrete surfaces are textured for gripping, and a variety of roosting materials are provided. The gray box you see above the human door is the bat entrance. It’s grated to prevent people from falling in.
Photo courtesy of PopSci.com, "Inside the Artificial Bat Cave" by Rebecca BoyleThe cave is constructed from “28 pre-cast concrete sections, which fit together using a tongue-and-groove system. They're modified versions of a standard concrete culvert used under roads and highways. Most of them weigh between 17 and 21 tons apiece” according to Popular Science. There also is a minimum 4 feet of soil covering all cave surfaces, this will help keep the underground temperature more consistent. The Nature Conservancy says the project cost $300,000. But what if the bat’s don’t like it? “The artificial cave is placed near a natural cave with an established hibernation population of gray bats. The plan is to coax some of them to the new digs by emitting ultra-sonic bat calls on loudspeakers.” -The Washington Post “Past experience shows that bats are constantly seeking new habitats. They move from cave to cave, tree to tree, always looking for new places that meet their needs for roosting and hibernating… The bats should go in as long as we get the temperature and humidity right. We believe they will. If they don’t go in, then we must have done something wrong, and we would make any adjustments we can…” -Cory Holliday, cave and karst program director for The Nature Conservancy in a Nature.org Q&A. link to a successful man-made roosting cave, which has successfully raised thousands of pups. But these examples got me thinking, why else should we build structures for animals? We certainly do so for education and recreational watching, like zoos and bird feeders. But there also is the importance of building awareness around the human nature connection. AnimalArchitecture.org is an organization that looks at the performance and roles biology can play in design, “illuminating alternative ways of living with nonhuman animals, discussing cross-species collaborations, and defining new frameworks through which to discuss biologic design”. The organization has a yearly competition that looks for ideas that demonstrate new ways for people to live more fully within our natural world. This years winning entry, BAT CLOUD, by Joyce Hwang, is designed to bring awareness and visibility to the importance of bats in our ecosystem.