Battle For Bats: Surviving White Nose Syndrome
Battle For Bats: Surviving White Nose Syndrome was produced for the USDA Forest Service by Ravenswood Media. It shows how government and private agencies have come together to search for solutions to help our bat populations overcome WNS. The public can also play a role in the future of bats by providing habitat and surveying their populations. Bats are a critical component in a healthy forest ecosystem, plus they provide significant agricultural pest control and pollination. Their survival is essential for a sustainable natural environment.
Michigan and Wisconsin.
The USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC), along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners continue to play a primary role in WNS research. Studies conducted at NWHC led to the discovery, characterization, and naming of the causative agent (the cold-loving fungus P. destructans), and to the development of standardized criteria for diagnosing the disease. Additionally, scientists at the NWHC have pioneered laboratory techniques for studying impacts of the fungus on hibernating bats.
To determine if bats are affected by white-nose syndrome, scientists look for a characteristic microscopic pattern of skin erosion caused by P. destructans. Field signs of WNS can include visible white fungal growth on the bat’s muzzle and/or wing tissue, but this is not a reliable indicator. Infected bats also often display abnormal behaviors in their hibernation sites (hibernacula), such as movement toward the mouth of caves and daytime flights during winter. These abnormal behaviors may contribute to the untimely consumption of stored fat reserves causing emaciation, a characteristic documented in a portion of the bats that die from WNS.
Current estimates of bat population declines in the northeastern US since the emergence of WNS are approximately 80%. This sudden and widespread mortality associated with WNS is unprecedented in hibernating bats, among which disease outbreaks have not been previously documented. It is unlikely that species of bats affected by WNS will recover quickly because most are long-lived and have only a single pup per year. Consequently, even in the absence of disease, bat populations do not fluctuate widely in numbers over time.
The true ecological consequences of large-scale population reductions currently under way among hibernating bats are not yet known. However, farmers might feel the impact. In temperate regions, bats are primary consumers of insects, and a recent economic analysis indicated that insect suppression services (ecosystem services) provided by bats to U.S. agriculture is valued between 4 to 50 billion dollars per year.
Despite efforts to contain it, WNS continues to spread. Within the last two years, the disease has been confirmed in several central states, including Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri. High mortality of bats has not yet been reported at these locations, and it remains to be seen if WNS will develop and manifest in warmer parts of the US or other temperate regions of the world with severity similar to that in the northeastern US. See the link below for WNS occurrences in North America.
The USGS National Wildlife Health Center, at 608-270-2400.
Disease Investigation Services
To request diagnostic services or report wildlife mortality, please contact the NWHC at 608-270-2480 or by email at NWHCfirstname.lastname@example.org,and a field epidemiologist will be available to discuss the case. To report wildlife mortality events in Hawaii or Pacific Island territories, please contact the Honolulu Field Station at 808-792-9520 or email Thierry Work at email@example.com. Further information can be found athttp://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/services/
- How Does White-Nose Syndrome Kill Bats?
- FWS Fact Sheet: WNS
- White-noseSyndrome.org - A Coordinated Response to the Devastating Bat Disease
- Biosafety Guidance for Handling and Storage of Pseudogymnoascus destructans
- NWHC Bat Submission Guidelines (Updated 12/1/2015)
- Battle for Bats brochure
- WNS National Plan
- Histologic Severity Scoring of WNS using Wing Membrane
- White-Nose Syndrome in Bats: USGS Updates
- USGS Publications on White-Nose Syndrome
- Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs Oversight Hearing on "Why We Should Care About Bats: Devastating Impact White-Nose Syndrome is Having on One of Nature’s Best Pest Controllers"
- Case Definitions for WNS (Revised 3/10/2015)
- WNS Sampling Methods
- Bulletin: Update on WNS - Tennessee Finding
- Webinar on WNS: An Emerging Fungal Pathogen?
- Video:Battle for Bats: Surviving White Nose Syndrome
- WNS Threatens the Survival of Hibernating Bats in North America
- Report from WNS Science Strategy Meeting
- Listen to scientist David Blehert on NPR's Science Friday
- Fish and Wildlife Service: WNS in NE Region
- FWS WNS Blog
- WNS Management: Report on Structured Decision Making Initiative (Oct. 2009)
- White-nose syndrome in bats, FAQ
- Video of Susi von Oettingen talking about WNS
- Bat Conservation International
- Power Point presentation by Al Hicks, NY DEC
- Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation, Indiana State University