A NEW HOME FOR BATS
With human development covering more and more land, conservationists can no longer mark off huge areas of wilderness to preserve wildlife. The notion of unsullied land is romantic, but there's not enough of it to maintain America's increasingly endangered fauna – like bats.
Many of North America’s bat species are in grave trouble. White nose syndrome, a rapidly spreading fungal disease killing bats, is one reason. Another reason is people: Many caves where bats hibernate are crowded with tourists and cavers. As those habitats disappear or are contaminated, so do bats – and their sounds.
There have been some creative conservation efforts. On the northern tip of Michigan, there has been a movement to conserve a collection of abandoned, underground copper mines as an alternative habitat for bats.
To conserve sounds that may also disappear, NPR reporter Chris Joyce and sound engineer Bill McQuay of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology traveled to Michigan a few years back. They recorded this copper mine environment, and many other environments around the world, for a collaboration between NPR and National Geographic called "Radio Expeditions."
The original stereo recording for "Radio Expeditions" was made using two omnidirectional microphones. And it has now been encoded especially for headphone listening, using software designed to more accurately reproduce the immersive listening experience you would have if you were standing (or crouching) in the bat hibernaculum. We assume you don’t have 3-D glasses, though, so we hope the background stock art will do.
Audio by Bill McQuay/Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Reporting by Chris Joyce
Designed/Produced by Wes Lindamood
Background image via iStockphoto