Assessing potential impact of white-nose syndrome on bats in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: development of a bat monitoring program for Yellowstone National Park

  • Lacki, Michael (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Scientists now believe that there is no greater threat to the survival of bats in North America than white-nose syndrome (WNS). The fungal pathogen Pseudogymnoascus destructans (formerly Geomyces destructans), which causes WNS, is responsible for significant levels of mortality in hibernating populations of bats (Blehert 2012). An estimated 5.5-6.7 million bats have died as a result of WNS in the United States as of January 2012 (USFWS 2012). From its original discovery in New York (2006), WNS has spread as far west as Iowa (2012), Missouri (2011), Oklahoma (2010), and Minnesota (2013). The disease is associated with mortality rates as high as 99% in hibernating populations, leading to regional extinctions of several species in northeastern North America (Frick et al. 2010). The Pseudogymnoascus fungus causes hibernating bats to arouse more frequently during winter hibernation than can be supported by energy and water reserves, leading ultimately to death through starvation and dehydration (Boyles and Willis 2010; Reeder et al. 2012; Warnecke et al. 2012). Although WNS has not been observed in bats at Yellowstone National Park (YNP), a proactive monitoring effort is a necessity for long-term management of bats in the Park. Bats are poorly suited to recovery from substantial population declines, because most species rear only a single young per female each year (Barclay and Harder 2003). It is anticipated that WNS will spread across western North America, eventually reaching hibernating bat populations in YNP. Improving our knowledge of roosting habitats (i.e., maternity roosts and hibernacula) and the foraging habitats used by bat species is vital for long-term monitoring, protection, and recovery efforts, especially should populations of bats in YNP experience declines associated with WNS as observed in the northeast. This proposal describes the status, distribution, and location of roosting sites of bat species in YNP through mist-netting, radio-telemetry, and acoustic monitoring. Acoustic monitoring will provide a statistically robust dataset for modeling the activity of bats in the northern range of YNP in relation to vegetative habitats, while mist-netting and radio-telemetry efforts will provide valuable information on the distribution of reproductive populations and location of maternity colonies and hibernacula. The proposed project will be a collaborative effort including personnel associated with YNP, University of Kentucky, Bucknell University, California Department of Transportation, and the Cascadia Research Collective.
Effective start/end date8/6/147/7/17


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