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View Full Version : White Nose Syndrome - will bats survive?


AshenLady
02-04-2011, 05:40 PM
http://www.fort.usgs.gov/wns/

White nose syndrome is a fungus which has spread all over the east coast and is threatening to destroy various bat populations. Bats are good for humans. They eat pesty insects by the billions.

1) Will scientists find a cure for it before some bat species become extinct?

2) How did it get here; the disease came from Europe and bats cannot make trans oceanic trips?

DocCathode
02-04-2011, 06:26 PM
1) Will scientists find a cure for it before some bat species become extinct?

As a bat lover, I doubt it. Many North American bat species were on the brink of extinction before White Nose showed up. I expect some will not survive.

AshenLady
02-04-2011, 06:36 PM
As a bat lover, I doubt it. Many North American bat species were on the brink of extinction before White Nose showed up. I expect some will not survive.


This is a shame.....it's terrible goings on. I was hoping they would find a fungicide sooner than later.

bucketybuck
02-04-2011, 06:51 PM
I expect some will not survive.

If only they had a superhero to fight on their behalf.

AClockworkMelon
02-04-2011, 06:52 PM
According to Wikipedia the fungus reacts to typical anti-fungal creams produced for use by humans. I guess the problem is administering it to millions of individual bats.

Suburban Plankton
02-04-2011, 06:53 PM
I read this as "white noise syndrome", and thought was going to be about the increasing amount of noise pollution interfering with bats' echolocation in some way...which made perfect sense to me...

The article says that this is a problem for 'hibernating bats'. I assume that there are then also 'non-hibernating bats' that might not be affected?

johnpost
02-04-2011, 06:56 PM
it has moved west into Ontario, Indiana, Missouri and Oklahoma.

AshenLady
02-04-2011, 06:57 PM
Bucknell University is doing lots of work on behalf of this disease. I would guess that they got some grant money for research.

AshenLady
02-04-2011, 06:58 PM
it has moved west into Ontario, Indiana, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Terrible for the bats...as the guy in National Geographic said, "I am not a sky is falling type of guy, but for the bats, the sky IS falling.".

Wahhhh!!

DocCathode
02-04-2011, 07:02 PM
According to Wikipedia the fungus reacts to typical anti-fungal creams produced for use by humans. I guess the problem is administering it to millions of individual bats.


That and the very big problem that we want to wipe out WN fungus and ONLY WN fungus. We can't risk introducing something into the ecosystem that winds up being more destructive than White Nose. IIRC The lamprey was introduced into the Great Lakes in order to deal with another invasive species. The lamprey ended up being much, much worse.

AshenLady
02-04-2011, 07:43 PM
http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/white-nose_syndrome/

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/12/white-nose-syndrome/all/1

Apparently white nose syndrome is one of the most virulent species known to attack mammals.

AClockworkMelon
02-04-2011, 07:54 PM
That and the very big problem that we want to wipe out WN fungus and ONLY WN fungus. We can't risk introducing something into the ecosystem that winds up being more destructive than White Nose. IIRC The lamprey was introduced into the Great Lakes in order to deal with another invasive species. The lamprey ended up being much, much worse.You're afraid that the fungal cream is going to wind up reproducing and devastate the countryside?

DocCathode
02-04-2011, 07:57 PM
You're afraid that the fungal cream is going to wind up reproducing and devastate the countryside?

Not exactly, I am afraid of unintended consequences.

AshenLady
02-04-2011, 08:12 PM
They said that the stuff like Lamisil and Tinactin kills the bats along with the fungus. Apparently a neurotoxin to bats.

fifty-six
02-04-2011, 08:30 PM
I always thought that bats represented nearly a quarter of all known mammalian species. Is this fungus disturbing multiple species of bats, just one or all?

AshenLady
02-04-2011, 08:35 PM
I always thought that bats represented nearly a quarter of all known mammalian species. Is this fungus disturbing multiple species of bats, just one or all?


All and every hibernating bat is potentially in harm's way. It's the cave that makes the temperature and humidity perfect for the growth of the fungus that is responsible for this disease.

BaneSidhe
02-04-2011, 11:39 PM
This sucks. I love bats :(

jayjay
02-05-2011, 01:12 AM
The way it kills them is apparently that it keeps the bats from hibernating properly, so they don't slow their metabolism enough to get through the winter on their fat stores.

Blake
02-05-2011, 02:03 AM
1) Will scientists find a cure for it before some bat species become extinct?

It;s impossible to say.

As DocCathode notes, several species are already at risk. If this disease gets into those populations it could spell the end. That could literally happen by this time next year. It's highly unlikely a practical cure will be found before then


However it's highly unusual for diseases to destroy robust populations of animals. If they could then they would be more useful for pest control. What we usually find is that the disease eliminates, say, 90% of the population, and the remaining 10% are genetically resistant rapidly repopulate.

So for the majority of bat species, the disease is worrying, but not likely to result in extinction.


2) How did it get here; the disease came from Europe and bats cannot make trans oceanic trips?

Bats sure can make oceanic trips. How do you think bats got to North America in the first place? Bats are almost invariably the first mammals to arrive in isolated islands. In the case of many islands they were the only mammals. In New Zealand and Hawaii bats were the only native mammals of any sort. The same is true of many oceanic islands. In Australia bats were the only placental mammals for several million years.

Bats routinely get blown out to sea in storms or even just through persistent high winds. Nobody knows how many, but it's probably tens of thousands every day. The vast majority die of exhaustion before they make landfall. But if even one in a billion survive, then you've got a few bats making oceanic crossing every single year worldwide.

In very, very few instances do the vagrants manage to both prosper and meet a member of the opposite sex of their own species that also got blown off course. But species survival isn't an issue here. Bats of multiple species commonly share roosting hollows during the day. A single bat blown off course and sharing a roosting hollow with a native population for just one night is more than enough for the disease to become established.

Added to the natural dispersal abilities of bats, bats just love to roost in buildings, and that includes shipping containers. As a result bats get moved around over vast distances by people all the time.