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A Turning Point in Saving Bats from white-nose syndrome - White-nose syndrome (WNS) is caused by a fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (formerly known as Geomyces destructans). Given the extent and rate of spread of the fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans), which causes WNS in North America, it is time to admit that it can’t be stopped.

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A Turning Point in Saving Bats from White-Nose Syndrome

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A turning point in saving bats from white nose syndrome

A Turning Point in Saving Bats from WNS | Merlin Tuttle

Source: www.merlintuttle.com/2016/06/07/a-turning-point-in-saving-bats-from-wns

By Paula:

June 7, 2016

A Turning Point in Saving Bats from White-Nose Syndrome

By Merlin Tuttle

06/07/2016

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Given the extent and rate of spread of the fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans), which causes WNS in

North America, it is time to admit that it can’t be stopped. It is here to stay, and further attempts to document

or prevent its spread are more likely to exacerbate than alleviate bat mortality. The last thing that the

relatively small numbers of survivors need now is more human disturbance during a period of critical stress.

An unknown portion of the WNS die-off has almost certainly been caused by well-intended human efforts to

help bats in hibernation sites. Human entry typically causes bats to raise their metabolism and burn up extra

energy, even if they do not visibly arouse. A single ill-timed disturbance can force a bat to waste a month’s

supply of stored fat. In bats whose energy has already been depleted by WNS this could be the straw that

broke the proverbial camel’s back.


A turning point in saving bats from white nose syndrome

Bats are highly mobile, able to spread WNS with almost unbelievable speed, as they’ve already proven. They

also know and visit thousands of roosting places unknown to us, making effective control impractical, if not

impossible, even if a safe and effective cure could be found.

Hibernating little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus) in a Michigan mine. Hundreds of miles of passages in this

state’s abandoned mines have been protected, but are unreachable for status surveys, making accurate counts

impossible. Summer monitoring of feeding habitat with bat detectors likely would give more reliable year-to-

year evidence of status trends.

Suggestions of treating caves to eliminate or suppress WNS, pose risks of unintended consequences.

Mycologists have warned that “Attempts to eradicate specific cave microorganisms may lead to undesired

fungal or bacterial outbreaks since intact communities may interact as biological control agents.”

Federal and state agencies are currently considering a proposal to test fogging with an apparently nontoxic

chemical suppressant in an abandoned railway tunnel in Georgia this winter. The tunnel’s former hibernating

bat population has fallen from 5,000 to just 220 since the arrival of WNS.

Because remaining bats likely have the highest natural resistance, they may be ready to begin rebuilding on

their own, as appears to have happened in other locations. Even if the proposed experiment caused half of the

remainder to die needlessly, the experiment could be mistaken as successful because 110 “were saved.”

Such treatment is impractical on a large scale and would neither eliminate the fungus nor prevent reinfection

of bats. It also could have unintended consequences. It could trigger costly bat arousals caused by ultrasonic

sounds, odors or air movement during pressurized release. And, even if nonlethal, it could suppress non-target

organisms, disrupting unique cave ecosystems of potentially great value.


A turning point in saving bats from white nose syndrome

Huge expanses of hibernating gray myotis in Fern Cave,

Alabama. This cave shelters America’s largest hibernating bat

populations, mostly gray myotis. Because of its miles of

extremely complex passages, hundreds of thousands of bats at a

time may be overlooked during winter surveys, again making

acurate status trend determinations impossible.

At this point I believe we should pursue two primary goals to

deal with WNS: 1) improve protection at key hibernation sites

for all bats (not just for species already listed as endangered)

and 2) expand standardized monitoring of status trends in

summer habitats, based on ultrasonic detection. In some cases

entry/exit counters in protected cave or mine entrances may

also prove helpful. It is imperative that we accurately monitor

status trends to credibly defend threatened and endangered

listings and to measure the efficacy of conservation actions,

including improvements in summer habitat and restoration and

protection of hibernation sites.

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TAGS

bat . bat conservation . bats . conservation . disease . merlin tuttle . merlin tuttle's bat conservation . White-

nose syndrome . wns

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Article Source: www.merlintuttle.com/2016/06/07/a-turning-point-in-saving-bats-from-wns

Read More Stories: http://www.merlintuttle.com/news-blog/

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