Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Deadly fungus threatens 9 bat species in Ga., Ky., N.C., S.C. and Tenn., expert says

Date:
April 7, 2010
Source:
Southern Research Station - USDA Forest Service
Summary:
A leading bat expert identified nine bat species in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee that she believes are most threatened by white-nose syndrome, a fungus that kills bats and appears to be rapidly spreading south from the northeastern United States.

A little brown bat found in a New York cave exhibits fungal growth on its muzzle, ears and wings.
Credit: Al Hicks, NY Dept of Environ. Conservation

A leading bat expert with the USDA Forest Service's Southern Research Station has identified nine bat species in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee that she believes are most threatened by white-nose syndrome (WNS), a fungus that kills bats and appears to be rapidly spreading south from the northeastern United States. Station Research Ecologist Susan Loeb, Ph.D. says WNS has been confirmed in Tennessee, and she says it is just a matter of time before the fungus is detected in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina.

"In the five states where most of my research has centered, little-brown bats and Indiana bats are among the most threatened by WNS -- meaning their populations could either be seriously decimated or become extinct," said Loeb, a veteran wildlife researcher based in Clemson, S.C. "Historically, little-brown bats were quite common, but the species appears to be especially susceptible to the fungus and is being hit hard in the states where WNS has taken hold. While populations of the federally endangered Indiana bat showed signs of rebounding in recent years, those gains may soon be negated by white-nose syndrome."

Loeb is also concerned that WNS will have serious effects on populations of small-footed bats, northern long-eared bats, and Eastern pipistrelles, either because of their small populations, their susceptibility to the disease or both. Other species that could be infected are the Virginia big-eared bat, Rafinesque's big-eared bat, gray bat and southeastern bat. More than a dozen bat species inhabit Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

"Virginia big-eared bats are endangered, so their small numbers and limited distribution put the species at serious risk of becoming extinct in Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia if they become infected," said Loeb. "Rafinesque's big-eared bat is a rare species that hibernates in caves in the karst regions of North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. Thus they too could be infected with WNS and suffer dramatic declines. However, this species also roosts in large hollow trees and other structures in the coastal plain regions and may be safe from the disease in part of its range."

Bats play an important role in keeping forests and other landscapes healthy and productive. One of their primary roles is insect, or pest, control. A handful of bats can eat thousands of mosquito-sized insects in one night. In tropical and subtropical regions bats also pollinate many agricultural plants and help with seed dispersal. Unfortunately, most bat populations in the United States have declined over the years. Habitat loss and disturbance and degradation of hibernacula and maternity roosts are major contributors to their decline.

Loeb is among the many scientists actively studying the spread of WNS. Her research on bat migration will help in monitoring and predicting the spread of WNS in the South. She is also collaborating with partners in the public and private sectors to produce a searchable bat database that will enable researchers to better track populations in the East. The database will serve as a central repository that will provide new insights into bat distributions and movements, which is critical for understanding and predicting the spread of WNS. Other Forest Service offices, Clemson University, and the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network and Northeastern Bat Working Group are partners in the project.

Additionally, Loeb is studying bat habitat associations in the southern United States and results from these studies could be used to help restore certain bat species and populations in the event that WNS becomes widespread in the South.

Loeb remains in close contact with biologists and researchers in the Forest Service's National Forest System Regional Offices and Northern Research Station to address WNS, as well as scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and state agencies who are aggressively studying and trying to mitigate the effects of WNS.

So far, WNS is confirmed in the following 11 states: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee. The disease is also confirmed in Canada. The first case of the disease in the United States was reported in New York State in 2006. The disease is confirmed in six bat species.

WNS affects bats that hibernate in caves and mines. Government agencies closed caves to the public in an effort to reduce the spread of WNS. The disease received its name because of the white fungus often seen on the noses, muzzles and wings of infected bats. In 2008, government scientists identified the fungus that causes WNS. Researchers are trying to better understand exactly how and why the fungus kills bats. More than a million bats have died as the result of WNS. Some experts believe the disease originated in Europe.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Southern Research Station - USDA Forest Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Southern Research Station - USDA Forest Service. "Deadly fungus threatens 9 bat species in Ga., Ky., N.C., S.C. and Tenn., expert says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100407121223.htm>.
Southern Research Station - USDA Forest Service. (2010, April 7). Deadly fungus threatens 9 bat species in Ga., Ky., N.C., S.C. and Tenn., expert says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100407121223.htm
Southern Research Station - USDA Forest Service. "Deadly fungus threatens 9 bat species in Ga., Ky., N.C., S.C. and Tenn., expert says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100407121223.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins