On Estimating the Economic Value of Insectivorous Bats: Prospects and Priorities for Biologists

  • Justin G. Boyles
  • Catherine L. Sole
  • Paul M. Cryan
  • Gary F. McCracken


Bats are among the most economically important nondomesticated mammals in the world. They are well-known pollinators and seed dispersers, but crop pest suppression is probably the most valuable ecosystem service provided by bats. Scientific literature and popular media often include reports of crop pests in the diet of bats and anecdotal or extrapolated estimates of how many insects are eaten by bats. However, quantitative estimates of the ecosystem services provided by bats in agricultural systems are rare, and the few estimates that are available are limited to a single cotton-dominated system in Texas. Despite the tremendous value for conservation and economic security of such information, surprisingly few scientific efforts have been dedicated to quantifying the economic value of bats. Here, we outline the types of information needed to better quantify the value of bats in agricultural ecosystems. Because of the complexity of the ecosystems involved, creative experimental design and innovative new methods will help advance our knowledge in this area. Experiments involving bats in agricultural systems may be needed sooner than later, before population declines associated with white-nose syndrome and wind turbines potentially render them impossible.


Insect Population Crop Pest Insect Prey Pest Suppression Pest Control Service 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank Scott Pedersen and Rick Adams for inviting us to write this chapter. Any use of trade product or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin G. Boyles
    • 1
  • Catherine L. Sole
    • 2
  • Paul M. Cryan
    • 3
  • Gary F. McCracken
    • 4
  1. 1.Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Center for EcologySouthern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Zoology and EntomologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  3. 3.United States Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science CenterFort CollinsUSA
  4. 4.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

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