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White Nose Syndrome In Bats Essay

1050 words - 4 pages

The population of bats in the United States is facing a serious threat of extinction due to the outbreak of a deadly fungus called Deomyces destructans. The fungus is nicknamed White-Nose Syndrome, after the white fungus that typically appears on the infected bats noses and wings. Other signs and symptoms of White Nose Syndrome are white fungus on the ears and tail as well, bats flying during the day in the middle of winter, bats clustered near the entrance to a hibernacle or cave, and general abnormal behavior for a hibernating bat. Scientifically the fungus has been identified as, Deomyces destructans. The fungus itself causes damage to their connective tissues, muscles, and skin. It also can disrupt many of their physiological processes. Typically during a hibernation period bats will wake up on average every 10 to 20 days. An infected bat on the other hand will wake up every 3 to four days which causes them to burn up their fat stores twice as fast. When they wake up they are both dehydrated and hungry, around 90% of the bats actually die from starvation due to a lack of insects for food in the winter season. WNS is transmitted from bat to bat and that is why any contact between an infected bat from one cave population with a non-infected bat from another population has serious consequences.
Throughout the Northeastern United States, since the winter of 2006, millions of cases of White-Nose Syndrome have been documented. Since its original discovery White-Nose Syndrome, WNS, has spread rapidly throughout the northeast, killing off record numbers of hibernating bat populations. Since its first detection in 2006 WNS has killed over 5.7 million bats in this area. Currently WNS has been documented in sixteen states and continues to spread across the continent. The common bats in this area are little brown bats and they are experiencing the highest death toll. The mortality rate of a cave population that has been infected is at 90-100% which means entire caves are being wiped out. Besides the little brown bats, there are five other species of hibernating bats also affected. The combination of a high mortality rate and rapid spreading is the reason WNS could potentially lead to serious ecological and environmental impact and could possibly infect at half of the bat species in the United States. Signs of this can already be seen in many of the impacted areas already, as bats fill an extremely important role in the ecology of an ecosystem. Due to the severity of this bat epidemic federal, state, and local organizations as well as many independent researchers are working hard to develop plans to learn more about the fungus in order to contain the spread and find a way to save the bat populations, with Bucknell scientist Dr. Reeder at the forefront. Very recently there have been several discoveries which could lead to a solution.
The combination of a high mortality rate and rapid spreading is the reason WNS could potentially...

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