May 17,2012 Wildlife Management Institute
A new study in the journal Conservation Biology reports that white-nose syndrome has killed 90% of northern long-eared, little brown, and tri-colored bats in North America in just the last 10 years. The study is based on findings of collaborators gathered over 23 years and compiled through the North American Bat Modeling Program (NABat). The program is part of a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey to provide the infrastructure and coordinating efforts that support continental-scale data to inform the management of white-nosed syndrome and other threats to bats.
“The impacts of white-nose syndrome on bat populations have been swift and severe, but we are not without hope,” said Jeremy Coleman, national white-nose syndrome coordinator for the Service and an author on the paper. “Through strong collaborative efforts like this analysis, we continue to learn more about the dynamics of this disease and we will build the infrastructure we need to conserve native bats for future generations.”
Limited multi-state, range-wide analyses of once common bat species have made it difficult to understand the role of local populations in overall species viability. Ongoing declines in northern long-eared bats led the Service to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act and to initiate reviews of little brown bats and tricolored bats. Individual states and Canada have also enacted additional protections for bats.
“With this collaborative study, we clearly illuminate the scale of the loss resulting from white-nose syndrome, which is both quantitatively severe and geographically pervasive,” said Carl Herzog, senior wildlife biologist for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and an author on the paper. “The story it tells is grim, to be sure, but having a clear view of what we are up against is an important precursor to mounting an effective management response.”