It’s nice when two environmental issues can be tackled simultaneously. In this case, those issues are implementing solar technology, and saving a threatened bat population.
Bats in the northeastern parts of Canada and the United States are dying in alarming numbers, and researchers believe that a newly discovered fungus is responsible. The fungus, they say, leads to a condition known as white-nose syndrome. Since white-nose syndrome was first detected in 2006 in New York, the fungus has spread across the border to Ontario and six other states. The fungus has killed hundreds of thousands of bats - as much as 80% of the bat population in some areas. This is of particular concern to farmers who rely on bats as a way of controlling the insect population.
But now with the help of solar cells, the bats may have a way to sleep through this deadly disease. White-nose syndrome is thought to kill the bats by waking them up during their winter hibernation. Bats need to sleep through this period because the insects they need to eat to survive aren't around during the cold season. When they wake up prematurely, they have nothing to eat and subsequently starve.
Researchers at the University of Winnipeg and Indiana State University theorize that if the bats are kept in a warm place, they will remain in hibernation. They therefore propose using solar powered insulated boxes (that would hold about 200 bats each) to keep the mammals warm – and asleep. The boxes would be powered by car batteries linked to solar cells. Their computer-stimulated model shows that using these boxes could drop mortality rates to as low as eight per cent.
Via National Geographic
written by Fred, June 25, 2009
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