Bats on the Brink

Video shows how scientists monitor bats & white-nose syndrome

USDA Forest Service researchers are monitoring the effects of white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease from Eurasia that has decimated cave-hibernating bats across the U.S. since its arrival in 2006.

“The fungus that causes white-nose syndrome grows on bats in the wintertime. It causes them to wake up during their hibernation and burn their fat reserves,” says Phillip Jordan, wildlife biologist. Jordan is among the experts featured in a new video, Bats on the Brink. Forestry technician Virginia McDaniel created and produced the video.

A new study suggests that some bat populations in the South are adapting to white-nose syndrome.

“There is definitely hope for bats,” says Susan Loeb, research ecologist and lead author of the study. “In Stumphouse Tunnel in South Carolina, the populations have gotten very low, but now they are stabilizing. In some cases we are seeing some increases in the populations. It may be that bats are surviving because they are changing their behavior like moving to colder places so it takes the fungus longer to affect them.”

Bats are critical members of forest communities and provide an important economic service to farmers and the agriculture industry.

“In the eastern United States bats are all insectivores,” says Roger Perry, a research wildlife biologist. “Their insect consumption is important for forest health and agricultural products because bats are a natural insecticide.”

Watch Bats on the Brink to learn more about these collaborative conservation efforts. For more information, email Virginia McDaniel at virginia.l.mcdaniel@usda.gov.

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