WNS - A New Equilibrium for Little Brown Bats?

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WNS - A New Equilibrium for Little Brown Bats?

Postby PYoungbaer » Aug 18, 2015 8:38 am

This is a very interesting, but not surprising study regarding the previously predicted extirpation (regional exctinction) of the Little Brown bat in the Northeast (Fricke, et al). However, when epidemiologists began to get involved in WNS research and introduced the model of pathogen and host, they showed that the pathogen population grew while the host population declined. These lines crossed, and eventually, there isn't enough host to support the pathogen population, and it too crashes. The pathogen needs a host to thrive, so both evolve somewhat, and a new equilibrium is found.

This has important potential ramifications for wildlife management conservation responses. Historically, wildlife biologists/managers have attempted to restore populations to previous levels. This study supports the hypothesis that this will not be possible. Personally, I was involved in conversations with wildlife managers to this effect several years ago at the annual WNS symposia, but they were all about continuing to do what they could to get populations back up to where they were. Now, this approach may need to be rethought.

Publication: Estimating the short-term recovery potential of little brown bats in the eastern United States in the face of White-nose syndrome
Russell RE, Thogmartin WE, Erickson RA, Szymanski J, Tinsley K

White-nose syndrome (WNS) was first detected in North American bats in New York in 2006. Since that time WNS has spread throughout the northeastern United States, southeastern Canada, and southwest across Pennsylvania and as far west as Missouri. Suspect WNS cases have been identified in Minnesota and Iowa, and the causative agent of WNS ( Pseudogymnoascus destructans) has recently been detected in Mississippi. The impact of WNS is devastating for little brown bats ( Myotis lucifugus), causing up to 100% mortality in some overwintering populations, and previous research has forecast the extirpation of the species due to the disease. Recent evidence indicates that remnant populations may persist in areas where WNS is endemic. We developed a spatially explicit model of little brown bat population dynamics to investigate the potential for populations to recover under alternative scenarios. We used these models to investigate how starting population sizes, potential changes in the number of bats overwintering successfully in hibernacula, and potential changes in demographic rates of the population post WNS may influence the ability of the bats to recover to former levels of abundance. We found that populations of the little brown bat and other species that are highly susceptible to WNS are unlikely to return to pre-WNS levels in the near future under any of the scenarios we examined.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304380015003221
PYoungbaer
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Re: WNS - A New Equilibrium for Little Brown Bats?

Postby PYoungbaer » Aug 19, 2015 9:53 am

In a related story, this Vermont Public Radio piece (with photos) hypothesizes that maybe the 10% regeneration rate for a local Little Brown colony is likely to be the norm. It was quite exciting locally when the banded bats from 2006 were found to be still thriving - pre-WNS banding, but still kicking.

http://digital.vpr.net/post/scientists-study-white-nose-syndrome-survivors-vermont-bat-colony
PYoungbaer
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1358
Joined: Apr 30, 2008 4:04 pm
Location: Plainfield, VT
NSS #: 16161 CM FE
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Vermont Cavers Association
  


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