Tue Dec 18, 2012, 08:32 AM
hatrack (40,706 posts)
White-Nose Fungus Survives In Caves Long After Last Bat Victims Have Died
The deadly fungus decimating bat populations across a growing swath of North America appears to be a more hardy foe than previously thought, able to live in the soil of caves long after all of the bats have died, according to a new study by Wisconsin researchers. The disease caused by the fungus, white-nose syndrome, has killed an estimated 5.5 million bats in the eastern United States since it was identified in the winter of 2006-'07.
While the disease does not appear able to spread to humans, it has strong implications for agriculture. Bats are prolific consumers of insects that damage crops. A single little brown bat can consume 1,000 insects in a single night.
A 2011 study found that the bat die-offs due to white-nose syndrome could cost American agriculture anywhere from $3.7 billion to $53 billion a year. The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that bats provide an annual benefit to Wisconsin agriculture of between $658 million and $1.5 billion.
White-nose syndrome causes hibernating bats to wake up much more frequently than they should, causing them to burn through fat reserves and eventually starve to death. The new research, published last week in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, deals a blow to the theory that after the disease has killed off its hosts, bats might be able to recolonize the same caves and rebuild their populations.
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White-Nose Fungus Survives In Caves Long After Last Bat Victims Have Died (Original post)
|phantom power||Dec 2012||#1|