Science Song of the Week #47: “Echolocation”

The Wired headline says, Bats are worth at least $3 billion per year. Brandon Keim explains:

The estimates are an informed, back-of-the-envelope calculation based on earlier research by study co-author Tom Kunz, a Boston University bat specialist who in 2006 published the most detailed look ever at the relationship of bats to insects and agriculture.

In the eight-county Winter Garden region of south central Texas, Kunz’s group calculated that Mexican free-tailed bats annually saved about $740,000 in pesticide costs, or roughly $74 per acre. (The savings held steady for cotton genetically engineered to produce its own pesticides.)

The new study extrapolates those values, adjusted for local levels of agricultural productivity, to the United States at large. It’s necessarily a rough extrapolation: Some regions have more bats than Texas, or fewer. And they might eat fewer insects, or more. But even as precise values vary, the underlying truth is invariable: Bats eat bugs, lots of them.

Any $3 billion entity deserves a song, don’t you think? I haven’t encountered any tunes that focus solely on the diets of insectivorous bats, but these bats do catch flying insects by echolocation, so … how about a bat echolocation song?

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