Endangered bats find sanctuary in Israeli 'ghost bunkers'

Apr 12, 2012

Abandoned army bunkers along the Jordan River have become a habitat for 12 indigenous bat species, three of which are already designated as endangered and two that are on the critical list. The bats were recently identified by a group of Tel Aviv University researchers who were granted access to the bunkers, spread out along a 60-mile-long stretch of land between the Sea of Galilee in the north of Israel to the Dead Sea's northern edge.

According to Ph.D. student Eran Levin of TAU's Department of Zoology, the local is estimated to be in the thousands. "There is no doubt that, by being in a closed military zone that has prevented human interference, the bat habitat allows these delicate creatures to thrive," he said. The underground forts have been empty since a peace treaty was signed with Jordan in 1994.

The researchers are now working to make the bunkers a more hospitable place for the bats by "roughing up" the steel and concrete walls — suspending mesh sheets and wooden pallets and spraying insulating foam and stuck stones to surfaces to provide a better grip. Night cameras have also been installed to keep an eye on the bats' movement and behavior.

The bats are earning their lodging by serving as an asset to the environment. They each eat a few grams of insects every night, reducing the need for pesticides.

Explore further: Big science from small insects

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Some bat numbers up in Britain

Dec 31, 2006

At least four species of bats in Britain have reversed decades of declining populations and have grown in numbers recently.

Biologists head to bunkers to fight bat disease

Dec 26, 2010

(AP) -- Biologist Susi von Oettingen walked into the dark World War II-era military bunker and took out her flashlight. Among the old pipes, wires and machinery parts, she saw some bats hanging from cracks ...

Hibernation keeps rabies going in bats

Jun 07, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, infectious disease biologist Dylan George from Colorado State University reports that a bat’s hibernation is wha ...

Remarkable journeys may save bat species

Jul 12, 2007

Researchers have new hope for the future of an endangered species of bat after two of the flying mammals traveled 110 miles to a Welsh cave to live.

Recommended for you

Big science from small insects

51 minutes ago

Anniversaries are often a time to look back. But after taking stock of the past, it can be just as important to look to the future.

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

Sep 19, 2014

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Asian stars enlisted to fight African rhino poaching

Sep 19, 2014

Increasingly desperate South African conversationists are turning to a multi-national team of "rhino ambassadors" to try to end the scourge of poaching—and Vietnamese pop diva Hong Nhung has been recruited ...

Tropical fish a threat to Mediterranean Sea ecosystems

Sep 18, 2014

The tropical rabbitfish which have devastated algal forests in the eastern Mediterranean Sea pose a major threat to the entire Mediterranean basin if their distribution continues to expand as the climate ...

User comments : 0