What is a Keystone Species?

There’s no denying that the animal kingdom is full of surprises. From the tiny but mighty hummingbird to the gargantuan blue whale, there’s an incredible amount of diversity among Earth’s many creatures. And while we often think of animals as being limited to four-legged mammals or scaly reptiles, the truth is that there are all sorts of fascinating creatures out there, each with its own unique set of behaviors and adaptations. Whether you’re marveling at the strength of a wildebeest or the speed of a cheetah, it’s hard not to be awestruck by the wonders of the animal kingdom. In fact, most animals on our planet are vital to the surrounding ecosystem. These are known as keystone species.

Continue below to learn more facts about keystone species, including one Virginia bat that will surprise you!

Family of African Lions, a well-known Keystone species.
Family of African Lions, a well-known Keystone species.

Keystone Species are Vital

A keystone species is a plant or animal that plays a critical role in the structure and function of an ecosystem. For example, large predators help to keep populations of their prey in check, which can help to maintain the balance of an ecosystem. Keystone species can also be important for pollination, seed dispersal, and other vital processes. When a keystone species is removed from an ecosystem, it can cause drastic changes that can result in the collapse of the entire system.

Examples of Keystone Species

There are many examples of keystone species in the natural world. One of the most well-known is the African lion. These predators help to control the populations of their prey, which can prevent overgrazing and keep the delicate balance of the ecosystem in check. Another example is the giant sequoia tree. These trees are some of the largest living organisms on Earth and play a vital role in sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Without them, our planet would be a much different place.

Humans can also have an impact on ecosystems as a keystone species. For better or for worse, our actions can cause drastic changes to ecosystems around us. We can inadvertently introduce invasive species that disrupt native ecosystems, or we can create pollution that harms or even kills plants and animals.

We can also choose to protect and conserve keystone species and their habitats, which can help to ensure the health of ecosystems around the world. No matter what our impact is, it’s important to remember that we are a part of the natural world, and our actions can have far-reaching consequences.

The Virginia Big-Eared Bat

The Virginia Big Eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus) is a keystone species, meaning that its extinction would have a devastating ripple effect throughout the ecosystem. This bat is a subspecies of the Townsend’s big-eared bat, a species of vesper bat found in North America. This subspecies is endemic to Virginia, United States. The Virginia big-eared bat is listed as a Species of Concern by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It is also state-listed as endangered in Virginia. The primary threat to this species is habitat loss and fragmentation.

Are you dealing with nuisance bat problems or bats in the attic? You need a safe solution. Contact Virginia Bat Pros at 804-729-9097 for licensed and insured bat removal and control you can afford. We serve residential and commercial clients.

Related Posts:

The Ecological Importance of Bats
The 4 Federally Endangered Bats in Virginia
Which Bats are Most Common in the Western Parts of Virginia?

Which Bats are Most Common in the Western Parts of Virginia?

Here in Virginia, our state is home to many species of bats. In fact, we are home to the famous, Virginia Big-Eared Bat, which was officially appointed the prestigious title of our state bat more than 14 years ago, and continues to be an admired and protected species, both locally and nationally, to this very day.

But when it comes to the Western parts of the state, bats are more abundant since the border is near so many cave systems and dense forests. From Roanoke to the West side border, a long list of bats can be spotted, including native species, federally-endangered species, and even just the occasional visitors.

Continue reading to learn more about them all!

Virginia Bat Removal and Control 804-729-9097
Luray Caverns in Virginia is home to many valuable species of bat!

Bat Species in Western Areas of Virginia

The Western parts of Virginia are known for their beautiful and abundant cavernous systems, making it no surprise that many bat species live in the region. Some of the most common bats found in Western parts of the state include Little Brown bats, Big Brown bats, and of course, the Virginia Big-Eared Bat. But there are plenty more fascinating bat species that are spotted in West VA caves, forests, riverbanks, and even abandoned mines!

Virginia Big-Eared Bats

Virginia big-eared bats range consists of eastern Kentucky, eastern West Virginia, southwestern Virginia, and northwestern North Carolina. As for habitat, they are mostly found dwelling in the limestone caves of western Virginia since they provide the proper temperature and humidity levels vital to their survival; but they are also commonly found in heavily vegetated oak-hickory or beech-maple-hemlock forests.

Little Brown Bats and Big Brown Bats

Little Brown bats (Myotis Lucifugus) and Big Brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) are often confused for one another because they live in the same areas and look very similar. See our previous blog, “The Difference Between the Big Brown Bat and Little Brown Bat” to learn all the interesting facts about these two incredible species, and what sets them apart.

Endangered Species

There are 3 particular species of bat in Virginia that are Federally-endangered, and 1 that is state-endangered. All of them are currently protected by the Endangered Species Act. This act strictly prohibits anyone from attempting to “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct” with any endangered or threatened species of wildlife, including bats. The bats that are on this list include the Gray Bat (Myotis grisescens), Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalist), Virginia Big-Eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus), and Rafinesque’s Big-Eared Bat (State Endangered; also known as the Southeastern Big-eared Bat).

Occasional Visitors:

? Rafinesque’s Big-Eared Bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii)
? Seminole Bats (Lasiurus seminolus)
? Gray Bat (Myotis grisescens)

Trusted Virginia Bat Removal and Control

Call Virginia Bat Pros at 804-729-9097 for humane bat removal and control assistance you can trust. We serve all of Old Dominion, including Roanoke, Richmond, Petersburg, Short Pump, Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Newport News, Virginia Beach, and more. We offer 24 hour bat removal, as well as, numerous residential and commercial bat exclusion services, such as bat cleanup and restorations for bat damages. We even provide insurance work! Contact us today for a free estimate.

Virginia Bat Removal and Control