update WNS maps

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update WNS maps

Postby BrianC » Jan 6, 2012 12:03 pm

looking at the past few years maps depicting the spread of WNS, would it be great to see the new maps showing where bats have repopulated? I think that this would get some rave reviews from the populous. :kewl:
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Re: update WNS maps

Postby Mudduck » Jan 6, 2012 9:27 pm

That would be nice. Its a shame negativity is conducive to funding.
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Re: update WNS maps

Postby PYoungbaer » Jan 9, 2012 11:07 am

BrianC wrote: would it be great to see the new maps showing where bats have repopulated?


Brian - it would be inaccurate to say that bats have "repopulated" anywhere since WNS hit. All you're seeing is reports of some survivors. The number of hibernating bat colonies is down, and the number of bats is down. Given the low reproductive rates of bats (one pup per year, with a survival rate of 40% or so under healthy conditions), repopulation is a long way off. In fact, we've had a number of discussions about what is a realistic management goal. Traditional population recovery goals are to restore a population to previous levels. We don't even know if that's realistic or possible. It may very well be that the fungal and bat populations determine a new equilibrium where bat colonies are smaller, such as in Europe. That is very much a matter of discussion and speculation. However, there is no "repopulation" yet at all, just survivors, so don't hold your breath for any such map.
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Re: update WNS maps

Postby BrianC » Jan 9, 2012 11:25 am

PYoungbaer wrote:
BrianC wrote: would it be great to see the new maps showing where bats have repopulated?


Brian - it would be inaccurate to say that bats have "repopulated" anywhere since WNS hit. All you're seeing is reports of some survivors. The number of hibernating bat colonies is down, and the number of bats is down. Given the low reproductive rates of bats (one pup per year, with a survival rate of 40% or so under healthy conditions), repopulation is a long way off. In fact, we've had a number of discussions about what is a realistic management goal. Traditional population recovery goals are to restore a population to previous levels. We don't even know if that's realistic or possible. It may very well be that the fungal and bat populations determine a new equilibrium where bat colonies are smaller, such as in Europe. That is very much a matter of discussion and speculation. However, there is no "repopulation" yet at all, just survivors, so don't hold your breath for any such map.


It is certainly warranted by any small increase over years past where some bat colonies have been hit hard to even 100%. The news will be good for all parties involved, from cavers to USFWS. I'm sure that if a map comes to fruition, it will be looked upon negatively by any party that receives funding for research though. A re-population map does make very good sense to anyone looking forward to bats survival. :waving:

However, there is no "repopulation" yet at all, just survivors, so don't hold your breath for any such map.
[/quote] This is just not true, caves that have been totally been wiped out have had bats counted recently. Now re-population of pups might not begin as quickly, but any bats that either return or simply migrate to a cave recently decimated, counts towards recovery. That is what I want to see.
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Re: update WNS maps

Postby PYoungbaer » Jan 9, 2012 2:20 pm

This is just not true, caves that have been totally been wiped out have had bats counted recently.

Brian - I'm not aware of any case such as you have described. Please list those caves where this has been reported. Thanks.
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Re: update WNS maps

Postby BrianC » Jan 9, 2012 2:43 pm

PYoungbaer wrote:
This is just not true, caves that have been totally been wiped out have had bats counted recently.

Brian - I'm not aware of any case such as you have described. Please list those caves where this has been reported. Thanks.


I would have to search for the information, but it is a cave(Northeast) completely wiped out in 2006 that has had bats found recently. That is why I made this post, to see where more bats are being found, that had lost bats in the past. I would also like there to be policy that if a cave or mine, has been found to be stricken and lost bats in the past, have yearly recon. visits and bat counts, to see what is happening.

It would be good stewards to do this.
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Re: update WNS maps

Postby David Grimes » Jan 9, 2012 2:54 pm

I read an article I believe was posted on Cavechat that specifically said that bats had returned to some caves where the bat populations were wiped out. I will see if I can find the article again. I guess it would not be the first time a writer did not take the time to properly research something before writing an article but I believe they cited references.
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Re: update WNS maps

Postby BrianC » Jan 9, 2012 3:28 pm

David Grimes wrote:I read an article I believe was posted on Cavechat that specifically said that bats had returned to some caves where the bat populations were wiped out. I will see if I can find the article again. I guess it would not be the first time a writer did not take the time to properly research something before writing an article but I believe they cited references.


Actually David, I really felt that Peter should have known more about the bats returning than I did, but It made an impression on my hoping that the bats would recover themselves. That is why I made no reference, and I probably won't look, because I hope it becomes much more prevalent. The reason for asking for mapping the recovery in the first place.
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Re: update WNS maps

Postby wyandottecaver » Jan 9, 2012 6:18 pm

The only case I can think of is when "healthy" Wisconsin bats were introduced to mines where the original bats had died of WNS. Not exactly the same.

Still, bats are good at finding new homes. I am sure that some "good" bat caves will see at least temporary re-population and even increases. The issue is that if 1000 bats who formerly lived in several "crappy" caves when there were lots of bats, now move to the empty "good" cave you haven't actually gained anything...except making those bats more vulnerable.

The other side is that some species seem to be doing better in certain caves...namely big browns. But having 100 big browns leave an attic and take up residence in a "empty" cave that used to have 1000 little browns isnt the same either.

I do like the logic whereby when asked to provide a reference to support a statement, it is deemed unnecessary since future examples will surely present themselves to support the current claim. I think theoretical physics uses that approach a lot. :tonguecheek:
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Re: update WNS maps

Postby PYoungbaer » Jan 11, 2012 11:43 am

The WNS map changed almost negligibly this past year, hopefully showing that its progression has curtailed.


Brian, this past year the WNS map added Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. If that's "negligible" I don't want to see significant.

I do like the logic whereby when asked to provide a reference to support a statement, it is deemed unnecessary since future examples will surely present themselves to support the current claim. I think theoretical physics uses that approach a lot. :tonguecheek:


Ditto that, Todd :roll:

Speaking of specific data, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Andy King has completed the updated biennial Indiana bat survey and posted the data on the USFWS I-bat web page:

http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/mammals/inba/pdf/2011inbaPopEstimate04Jan12.pdf

What this chart shows is the obvious dramatic decline in the northeast region, driven by the large New York numbers, followed by Pennsylvania, Vermont, and New Jersey. On the other hand, West Virginia shows in increase - driven primarily by the large growth in the Hellhole Indiana population. However, please remember the huge loss of Little Browns at the Hellhole site due to WNS. That's a very interesting situation, given that the Indianas in more northern sites declined significantly. If WNS continues to move through the Midwest, will it have the same major impact on I-bats as in the Northeast? Or will it seemingly have little effect, as in West Virginia? Clearly, it's too soon to tell.

Overall, however, Indiana bats are holding their own, which is good news.
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Re: update WNS maps

Postby BrianC » Jan 12, 2012 9:54 am

Time will tell! What is obvious with much of the data, is many caves were not checked in a timely manner whereby much would have been missed early on. The syndrome movement westward ( thought to have been severe) is what I am saying has curtailed by simply looking at the map. As I have said, the need for rechecking caves and mines that have been wiped out early in the past,will give conclusive evidence of the ability for bats to and continue to repopulate where once they could not survive.

Time will certainly tell, and I hope that I am correct!
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Re: update WNS maps

Postby wyandottecaver » Jan 12, 2012 9:07 pm

The USFWS disclaimer about digital photography should be mentioned. In Indiana it was implemented fully more recently and drastically increased the estimates against past years. That being said, while I havent yet seen it, the Indiana (state) survey reportedly showed an increase at Wyandotte in its 1st year of WNS. Several of the main Indiana caves were in their initial infection year during this survey.

It would be interesting to find out about the 22% KY increase. That is almost certainly not natural and reflects either changed methods, a new cave, or maybe bats moving from unsurveyed caves to surveyed recently closed caves in Carter Caves SP.

Also, little browns seem harder hit in general than Indianas and this report was Indianas only.

Consider...Indiana has about 50% of ALL Indiana bats. (Wyandotte alone currently has about as many as ALL the 6 NE states of Region 5) and most of those are in about 6 caves and about half of those showed WNS this year. Hopefully the milder midwest will not be as hard hit as the colder NE. BUT....I think it is entirely possible that we could lose as many Indiana bats in Indiana in the next 2 years (the next survey) as have been lost in total across the country so far.....
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Re: update WNS maps

Postby PYoungbaer » Jan 13, 2012 10:05 am

Wyandotte,

I share your apprehensions about Indiana's I-bats. It really is too soon to tell how they will fare in second and third years of WNS. Given the record of continual declines of bat populations as documented by the very good NY data sets, it is more likely than not that we will see declines like that in Indiana.

We'd also be wise to be as cautious about the Kentucky and Missouri populations, and not just for I-bats. As you point out, Andy King's charts are for I-bats only, an outgrowth of the historic funding streams for bats on the Endangered Species list and the recovery plans put in place. We don't have that for other bat species affected by WNS, although there has been a trend for bat surveyors to include all populations since the onset of WNS. It's just not going to be as thorough as the I-bat data set, however.

I would also second your observation about the increasing use of digital photography for surveys. This is a better method in terms of less disturbance, but also lends itself to more accurate counts and more consistent methodology across the country. We're a long way from having that consistency, but the trend line is good.

Edit P.S.: One of the presentations at this week's Northeast Bat Working Group meeting was by Al Hicks: Hello Surveyors If You Are Not Taking Photographs You Are Not Doing Your Job
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Re: update WNS maps

Postby BrianC » Jan 13, 2012 10:45 am

Has there been any surveys this year that can be posted on the maps yet? Can any increase/decrease be shown on the map as well? What about in past caves that were decimated, are they being revisited and documented? :wink:
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Re: update WNS maps

Postby PYoungbaer » Jan 13, 2012 2:04 pm

Brian,

The short answer is, no. For the past couple of winters, surveys have been put off until later in the hibernation season. This is due to the fact that researchers felt they were missing early onset of WNS with the early surveys. Rather than disturbing hibernacula more than once, the trend has been to do them later, when any WNS is likely to be obviously manifest.

The current map is not set up to deal with your request. It is by county only, in many cases to protect specific locations. Many counties have multiple caves, so it is impossible to distinguish between infected, suspected, used-to-be-infected, checked last year, but not this year, etc. Frankly, we've been unable to even get an updated total mortality figure for two years as there is no uniform method for collecting this data. So, if you're holding your breath for some new detailed map, I hope you've alerted your nearby cave rescue unit to standby with oxygen.

From the discussion in the thread above, and elsewhere repeated many times, there simply hasn't been good longitudinal data for bat populations. This is especially true for non-listed species, as there was no funding dedicated to paying attention to them. Occasionally, a researcher would get funding for a specific site, but that's the exception, not the rule. The best longitudinal data we have seen that captures multiple species is from New York. Kate Langwig did a study over several years of WNS at some 20 sites. Early, rapid decline, followed by slower, steadier decline, with now a plateauing at the surviving population. New York has not done its surveys yet this year. I just got a call-out yesterday for volunteers to participate in the first round in a month or so.

As I said earlier, there are no cases I'm aware of where populations were decimated and have come back. First, biology says that won't happen on such a short timetable with such low reproductive rates. As Todd mentioned in another post, however, some sites occasionally see increases as bats move around. And if you look at the comments Andy King wrote on the Indiana bat charts, counting methodologies also account for some variability in the survey data. All I've seen and heard to date are scattered reports of survivors (VT, NY, and MA).
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