Biodiversity: More bad news for bats

dg

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

Environment: Bat-killing fungus can live on almost anything

‘All in all the news for hibernating bats in the U.S. is pretty grim’

bat

A little brown bat with white-nose syndrome. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The deadly fungus that has killed millions of bats across the U.S. is a tough, opportunistic organism that can eat almost anything and survive in a wide range of conditions.

There seems to very little that might stop the Geomyces destructans from spreading further and persisting indefinitely in bat caves, according to University of Illinois scientists who recently studied the basic biology of the fungus responsible for white-nose syndrome. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Facing white-nose syndrome, northern long-eared bats proposed for endangered species listing

iu

A northern long-eared bat. Photo by New York Department of Environmental Conservation; Al Hicks.

USFWS seeking public comment on listing proposal

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Threatened by white-nose syndrome, wind farms and habitat destruction, northern long-eared bats may soon get some additional protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this month proposed the listing, singling out white-nose syndrome as the primary threat in response to a petition filed by conservation groups.

The fungal disease has already killed about 5.5 million cave-hibernating bats in the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest and Canada.  Populations of the northern long-eared bat in the Northeast have declined by 99 percent since symptoms of white-nose syndrome were first observed in 2006. Continue reading

Environment: Bat-killing fungus found in Arkansas

sdfg

Bat-killing white-nose syndrome continues to spread.

New tests enable earlier detection

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Better lab tests may help biologists get a little bit of a jump on a bat-killing disease that is spreading westward across the country.

Last week, state biologists in Arkansas said they’ve confirmed the presence of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in two northern Arkansas caves by using the updated tests. The samples were collected last winter from the walls of the caves and from bats, though there are no reports of dead or sick bats.

White-nose syndrome was first reported in New York in the winter of 2006-2007. Since then, the disease has killed more than 6 million bats, in some places all but wiping out local populations. Since bats help pollinate many plant species and eat huge amounts of insects, the disease has huge economic and ecological implications. Continue reading

Environment: Pesticides may be at the root of bee, bat and amphibian die-offs

Suppressed immune systems making insect-eating species more susceptible to different pathogens

d

Two years ago, this species of bee vanished from local flowerbeds in Frisco, Colorado.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Waves of emerging wildlife diseases that are killing huge numbers of insect-eating animals could all be linked to the use of a new class of pesticides, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Environmental Immunology and Toxicology.

Neonicotinoids and related pesticides may be suppressing the immune system of bees, bats and even amphibians, making them much more susceptible to parasites, viruses and fungal infections, the researchers found after comparing geographical patterns of emerging diseases with the use of neonicotinoids.

Insects feeding on the pollen and nectar of crops treated with the pesticides absorb the chemicals and the poison is subsequently passed on to animals higher up the food chain that prey on those bugs, the scientists hypothesized, citing evidence of deviation from normal pathogen-host relationships. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Conservation group says bats are at risk under new Forest Service Rocky Mountain cave-access policy

Re-opening caves could lead to spread of deadly white-nose syndrome

sdfg

sdfg

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service this week denied an appeal of a new cave-access policy for the Rocky Mountain region, clearing the way for the re-opening of some caves that have been under a blanket closure the past three years to try and prevent the spread of bat-killing white-nose syndrome.

The fungal pathogen was probably introduced to caves in the Northeast by humans and quickly spread to kill more than 7 million bats as far west as Missouri and Oklahoma. Bats are unsung members of the country’s ecosystems, providing valuable insect-control and pollination services. Continue reading

New Forest Service cave policy faces a challenge

Appeal says new rules won’t protect bats from white-nose syndrome

A Missouri bat that died after being infected with white-nose syndrome. Photo courtesy USGS.

A Missouri bat that died after being infected with white-nose syndrome. Photo courtesy USGS.

* Click here for more Summit Voice coverage of white-nose syndrome

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Conservation groups say U.S. Forest Service officials made an arbitrary and capricious decision when they replaced a widespread cave and mine closure with a weaker rule that could lead to the introduction of a deadly bat disease in the Rocky Mountain region.

In its appeal, the Center for Biological Diversity said that required decontamination procedures are questionable at best under field conditions, and that mandatory closures of caves when white-nose syndrome is detected within 250 miles doesn’t go far enough to protect bats.

Travelers and cave visitors could easily span that distance before the disease is ever detected, thus inadvertently spreading the disease into West, which so far has remained free of the disease that has wiped out more than 5 million bats across the eastern U.S. Continue reading

Colorado: Forest Service finalizes plan to protect bats

sdfgs

White-nose syndrome is spreading outward from the Northeast. Graphic courtesy whitenosesyndrome.org.

White River National Forest keeps a few caves closed permanently, requires cave registration and decontamination

*Click here for more Summit Voice coverage of white-nose syndrome

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The White River National Forest is well-known for its many ski areas and stunning high-elevation wilderness areas, but the forest is also a Rocky Mountain stronghold for bats. And with a deadly disease poised to move into the region, resource managers are taking steps to try and protect the flying mammals with a new cave access policy.

Based on a regional study completed a few weeks ago, WRNF supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams has decided to keep several caves with biologically significant populations closed all year, and other caves may be closed seasonally. Year-round closures are to be enacted on ranger districts if white-nose syndrome is documented within 250 miles. The regional policy and supporting documents are online at this Forest Service website. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Bat-killing white-nose syndrome spreads near huge colony of endangered gray bats in Alabama

A tri-colored bat with the tell-tale signs of white-nose syndrome on its muzzle in

A tri-colored bat with the tell-tale signs of white-nose syndrome on its muzzle in Fern Cave, Alabama. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Impacts to gray bats still uncertain

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The largest known colony of endangered gray bats is  threatened by white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has already wiped out millions of bats from New England to the Southeast and into the Midwest.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials announced this week that the disease was confirmed at Fern Cave National Wildlife Refuge in Jackson County, Alabama. The refuge was created to protect gray bats.

White-nose syndrome was discovered in tri-colored bats near the two entrances to the cave. White-nose syndrome is not currently known to cause mortality in gray bats, the detection of infected bats at Fern Cave is cause for concern, federal biologists said. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Forest Service adopting a regional policy to address bat-killing fungal disease

Wildlife conservation advocates call for more stringent measures

dfghd

The Forest Service hopes that a tiered, adaptive-management approach will help prevent the spread of White-Nose Syndrome in the Rocky Mountain region.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service is adopting a regional policy aimed at managing caves in the face of White-Nose Syndrome, a bat-killing disease that is sweeping across the country.

The fungal infection has wiped out millions of bats in the Northeast, spreading southward, and west as far as Oklahoma, but hasn’t yet reached the Rocky Mountains, but the Forest Service recognizes the threat:

“If (the disease) is introduced to cave or (abondoned mine) habitats anywhere in the five states in Region 2, it will likely spread rapidly via bat-to-bat transmission and could quickly contaminate cave and (abandoned mine) habitats,” the agency concluded in the study. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,955 other followers