Bat Study, Songbird Forest, and Nature Programs: this week in environmental news

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White-nose syndrome has killed 98 percent of the little brown bat population. Image: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Bat recovery slow from white-nose syndrome (Great Lakes Echo): Little brown bat populations are unlikely to recover from a widespread fungal disease anytime soon, according to a recent study. This is worrisome since bats have a crucial role in the ecosystems in the Great Lakes and globally. They are the primary predators of night-time insects, pollinate over 300 species of fruit, and also keep forest ecosystems healthy. Studies about the diminishing bat population have pressured state officials to promote bat conservation. There are things ordinary citizens can do to help too, like replacing dead trees with bat houses so bats have a safe place to raise babies and replace lawns with wildflower gardens so bats have food.

‘Songbird Forest’ expands to save species (Mother Nature Network): A small nature preserve in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest has just grown by nearly 50%, thanks to conservationists working to save its array of wildlife from extinction. Known as Mata do Passarinho – Portuguese for “Songbird Forest” – this patch of Atlantic Forest has expanded to add 766 new acres, raising its total area from 1,586 to 2,352 acres. The forest is a haven for songbirds, many near extinction. Its most at-risk species is the critically endangered Stresemann’s bristlefront, whose estimated 15 survivors all live here.

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A male Stresemann’s bristlefront in Mata do Passarinho, the species’ last-known refuge. Image: Ciro Albano

Ruling the sky: Presentation to focus on Michigan’s birds of prey (MLive): Great predators of the sky will swoop into Muskegon as part of a unique presentation later this month. The two-session event scheduled for 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 21 will be held at the Lakeshore Museum Center in downtown Muskegon. The presentations will discuss the habitats of both common and rare Michigan hawks and owls, as well as their importance to the ecosystem.

Nature Center Offers Variety of Programs for Preschoolers (Farmington-Farmington Hills Patch): The Farmington Hills Nature Center is offering a variety of nature preschool classes this winter. Winter preschool classes meet Jan. 19 through March 14 on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday mornings. Each preschool class offers a different nature theme every week and time outdoors if weather permits.

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