Costa Rica is often admired for its species diversity, and bat species are no exception. Although Costa Rica only occupies 0.03% of the world’s land mass, 12% of bat species around the world can be found here.
Bats navigate by echolocation, or the use of sound to map the location of the landscape and potential food. Although humans usually cannot hear the sounds emitted by bats, they can reach the energetic intensity of the noise from a jet plane. Unprotected, the bat’s ears would be damaged by such a loud sound. But the bat’s ear muscles contract during the most intense period of sound and release a moment later to receive the echo. This protects the ears of the bat without compromising the intensity of the sound it sends out.
Bats are also an important part of the ecosystem. Insect-eating bats hold in check populations of insects, some of which are pests. Bats also pollinate and disperse seeds. While many animals, including birds and monkeys effectively disperse seeds, bats have the distinction of doing so in areas without trees. In these areas, bat dispersed seeds can grow into the pioneer species that begin the process of reforestation.
Information from Mammals of Costa Rica, by Mark Wainwright