Tennessee: Success in Saving Bats from White-Nose Syndrome
Jun 14, 2015
- Researcher Sybill Amelon with a cured Little Brown Bat just before releasing it. Photo courtesy of Katie Gillies/Bat Conservation International
This little guy was released after being successfully treated for White-Nose Syndrome. It’s a great day for conservation!
10 years ago, a fungus was introduced in the United States that quickly decimated populations of bats in American and Canada.
The culprit? Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), which causes White-Nose Syndrome in bats.
But now, for the first time, scientists have successfully treated bats infected with White-Nose Syndrome.
On May 19, 2015, scientists and conservationists gathered outside the historic Mark Twain Cave Complex in Hannibal, Missouri, to release back into the wild some of the first bats successfully treated for deadly White-Nose Syndrome.
The 75 bats released in May were part of the first field trials of a novel way to protect bats from this syndrome.
What White Nose Syndrome Does to Bats
Pd invades the nose, mouth and wings of bats during hibernation, when bats’ immune systems are largely shut down. Research indicates that the fungus may lead to dehydration, causing them to wake more frequently and burn precious fat reserves. This leads to starvation. Science has yet to develop an effective, ecologically appropriate means of combatting the fungus, which may kill up to 100 percent of bats in an infected cave.
Science Brings Hope
In 2012, Dr. Christopher Cornelison and several colleagues at Georgia State University found that a common North America bacterium had the ability to inhibit the growth of some fungi.
This innovative treatment’s development began not with bats, but with bananas.
Dr. Cornelison, U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist Dr. Sybill Amelon and research plant pathologist Dr. Daniel Lindner have been conducting laboratory research on the application of this bacterium since 2012, and this past winter conducted field trials in Missouri and Kentucky caves. Funding for this research was provided in part by Bat Conservation International, the U.S. Forest Service and the Tennessee Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
The recent field trials are the most promising sign yet that White-Nose Syndrome can be fought and that America’s bats can be saved.
Read the full press release and learn more about how we’re working to save nature for us all!
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Originally published on The Nature Conservancy – Source