Environment: Bat-killing disease spread into Iowa

Conservation advocates say more protection needed

FRISCO — Bat-killing white-nose syndrome has spread into Iowa, state wildlife officials confirmed this week, announcing that the deadly fungal disease was found on three bats near a cave entrance in Des Moines County (two little brown bats and one northern long-eared) and on four little brown bats collected in Van Buren County this winter.

Biologists first detected the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in an Iowa cave in 2011, but did not find afflicted bats until this winter. The latest report means that the disease is now present in more than half of the 50 states, concentrated in the eastern half of the country, and once again, conservation groups are sounding the alarm, charging that wildlife agencies aren’t doing enough to protect the flying mammals. Continue reading

Biologists trace physiological course of bat-killing disease

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A bat shows symptoms of white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that is wiping out bat populations in the U.S. Photo courtesy USGS.

Study tests energy depletion hypothesis

Staff Report

FRISCO —New research by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin is helping biologists solve the puzzle of white-nose syndrome, the fungal disease that has devastated bat populations in the eastern U.S. The new study how the disease progresses from initial infection to death in bats during hibernation.

“This model is exciting for us, because we now have a framework for understanding how the disease functions within a bat,” said University of Wisconsin and USGS National Wildlife Health Center scientist Michelle Verant, the lead author of the study. “The mechanisms detailed in this model will be critical for properly timed and effective disease mitigation strategies.” Continue reading

Why do bats fly into wind turbines?

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Close observation of bat behavior around wind turbines may help reduce bat deaths.

Study results may aid bat conservation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists say they may be a step closer to being able to reduce widespread bat mortality associated with the development of wind energy.

Based on months of nighttime video surveillance, U.S. Geological Society researchers say some species of the flying mammals may be mistaking the wind turbines for trees. The tree-roosting bats may be confusing the turbines for trees, according to USGS scientist Paul Cryan.

“If we can understand why bats approach wind turbines, we may be able to turn them away,” Cryan said. “Advances in technology helped us overcome the difficulties of watching small bats flying in the dark around the 40-story heights of wind turbines. The new behaviors we saw are useful clues in the quest to know how bats perceive wind turbines and why they approach them.”  Continue reading

Environment: Colorado biologists still on the lookout for bat-killing white-nose sydrome

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Reports from the public can help inform monitoring, response

Staff Report

FRISCO — Marking the start of National Bat Week (Oct. 26-Nov.1), Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said they’ll be carefully monitoring bat hibernation sites this winter for the effects of White-nose Syndrome, a deadly fungal disease that has killed between 5.7 and 6.7 million hibernating bats in caves and inactive mines in the eastern U.S.

“Bats are an important yet under-appreciated part of our world,” said CPW Species Conservation Coordinator Tina Jackson. “This threat is something we all should be worried about,” she added. Continue reading

Great Smoky Mountains National Park seeks to protect bat populations by limiting seasonal access to hibernation area

Monitoring to help inform conservation plan

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A map from Bat Conservation International shows the spread of white-nose syndrome in the eastern United States.

Staff Report

RISCO — The National Park Service hopes to protect bat populations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a winter closure to limit human disturbance to bat hibernacula and help hikers avoid interactions with bats.

The Whiteoak Sink area will be closed through March 31 while park biologists monitor  the site throughout the winter to cllect population, ecological and behavioral data. The information will be used to develop a long-term protection plan. An extended closure through late spring may be recommended if the winter data suggests such an action would increase the chances for survival of a significant number of bats. Continue reading

Biodiversity: More bad news for bats

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White-nose syndrome may be nearly impossible to eradicate from caves.

New study traces biological evolution of bat-killing fungus

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A new study by University of Akron scientists forecasts a gloomy future for North American bats, showing that the fungus that causes the deadly white-nose syndrome can likely survive in caves with or without the presence of bats.

The persistence of the fungus threatens regional extinction of some bat species, according to the new study published in PLOS One. White-nose syndrome has killed almost 7 million bats and appears to be relentlessly spreading across the country.

“The ability of the fungus to grow in caves absent of bats would mean that future attempts to reintroduce bats to caves would be doomed to failure,” said University of Akron associate biology professor Hazel Barton. Continue reading

New study ups estimate of wind turbine bat deaths

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Wind turbines killed at least 600,00o bats in 2012.

CU-Boulder researcher says wind farms are “key threat” to bat populations

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — By the latest conservative estimate, at least 600,000 bats were killed by energy producing wind turbines in 2012, with the highest fatality rates in areas near the Appalachian Mountains.

Little information is available on bat deaths at wind turbine facilities in the Rocky Mountain West or the Sierra Nevada, according to Mark Hayes, a University of Colorado, Boulder researcher who authored a new study, set to be published in the journal BioScience.

“The development and expansion of wind energy facilities is a key threat to bat populations in North America,” Hayes said. “Dead bats are being found underneath wind turbines across North America. The estimate of bat fatalities is probably conservative.” Continue reading

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