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NSS White-nose Syndrome Policy
B R E A K I N G N E W S
Florida Fish & Wildlife Asks Cavers to Decon (Not an April Fools Joke!)
The 2013 White Nose Syndrome season unfortunately began with a bang with the first report of the year. Mammoth Cave National Park confirmed WNS in a Northern Long-eared bat (Myotis Septentrionalis). Other confirmations have quickly followed from Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Canada's Prince Edward Island reported likely WNS, and North Carolina reported bats flying on the winter landscape. Since first documented in 2006, WNS has now been confirmed in 19 states and 4 Canadian provinces. A 5th province is now likely, and the fungus Geomyces destructans, identified as the cause of the disease, has been confirmed on several bats in two other states.
This early activity does not bode well for the rest of this winter and spring. White Nose Syndrome is a disease of hibernating bats, so naturally the hibernation season is when we expect any news. Winter hibernacula bat population surveys are now underway in most states, so reports – good and bad – will be coming in regularly over the next several months.
One key indicator to watch this winter will be the status of the federally-endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis). Every two years, the major Indiana bat roosts are surveyed, and a good database of population status has been maintained by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Through 2011, the overall Indiana bat population actually continued to grow, despite being hard hit in New York. However, with WNS now established a couple years in other major I-bat states, such as Indiana and West Virginia, how those populations are doing will tell us a lot about the long-term sustainability of this species.
Even though WNS isn't known to spread in the summer and fall, WNS research activities continue. The NSS' Journal of Cave and Karst Studies has just published a major research paper detailing the development of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife decon protocols, including much work done in Dr. Hazel Barton's lab.
Another study published in December details work conducted primary by the U.S. Geological Survey lab on cave sediments in WNS affected caves and documents that the fungus Geomyces destructans can persist in the cave environment after bats have departed.
In January 2013, the International Journal of Speleology published an excellent paper by Karen Vanderwolf of the New Brunswick Museum, et al, entitled, “A world review of fungi, yeasts, and slime molds in caves.” This study focused in part on Geomyces destructans, but put it in the context of all known research on fungi, helping the reader to understand the difficulties and limits of the current status of this research. While WNS has created a huge focus on Geomyces destructans, Vanderwolf writes, “It is interesting to note that although 132 of the 225 papers on cave mycology (58.7%) were conducted in Europe, G. destructans was not documented until it was targeted by researchers after WNS appeared in North America." This paper has much information on the distribution, behaviors, and other characteristics of fungi in caves that could have bearing on our responses to WNS. I strongly recommend it.
All three of these published studies were funded in part by the NSS' WNS Rapid Response Fund. Thanks to the generosity of the caving community, your contributions have now provided twenty grants for critical and timely WNS research. Details are available under the WNS Research Center section on this page. We continue to offer funding and encourage researchers to apply here, and your donations are always welcome.
In October, the North American Society for Bat Research held their annual Symposium, this year in Puerto Rico. As usual, numerous sessions were devoted to WNS. Abstracts of the papers can be found here. In January, the Northeast Bat Working Group (NEBWG) held its annual meeting, and WNS was front and center, as one would expect from the region most heavily impacted to date. Of high interest were the presentations on WNS survivors – caves and mines with populations that are showing slow growth – and the ongoing replacement of the Little Brown bats by Big Browns. Kate Miller presented a fascinating study of a significant Connecticut stream habitat showing not only Big Browns moving in as insect predators where Little Browns and Tricolored bats have been decimated, but also showing that fish are filling some of the void. Many of those presentations can be found here: http://www.nebwg.org/AnnualMeetings/2013/NEBWG13.html.
Finally, things have also been somewhat active on the management front. Most notably, the NSS has worked steadily and collaboratively in the mountain West U.S. Forest Service Region 2 – Colorado and environs – to balance access to caves with the protection of bats. In December, we filed formal comments on the management plan and environmental assessment, and you can read them here. Other regional offices of federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management in New Mexico, have been meeting with and engaging cavers in local planning. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service WNS National Plan groups have now all completed action plans, posted here: http://whitenosesyndrome.org/national-plan/white-nose-syndrome-national-plan.
In closing, I want to make the observation that we all continue to learn about this disease as time goes on. There is a noticeable shift toward conservation in the responses to WNS, that is, trying to help surviving bats thrive by protecting significant hibernacula and avoiding disturbance during the winter. It's also now clear that the disease is spread primarily by bat to bat contact, and that blanket cave closures have been an ineffective, and even counter-productive strategy in preventing disease spread. Still, WNS shows little sign of abating, and this winter's population surveys will be telling. Please keep coming to this page for the most up-to-date information on WNS. Thank you.
WNS RESEARCH CENTER
EDUCATION & OUTREACH
Help us continue to fund priority, time-sensitive research
Grant application guidelines, review & award process
Abstracts of the North American Symposium
Special WNS Session at the 2011 NSS Convention, Glenwood Springs, Colorado July 20, 2011, links to complete presentations
Summary of the 2011 WNS Symposium, May 17-19, 2011 By Peter Youngbaer
Abstracts from the Pittsburgh WNS Symposium
Second WNS Science Strategy Conference Proceedings Austin TX, May 27-28, 2009
Albany WNS Science Strategy Conference Proceedings June 2008. Includes the WNS research priorities for 2008-2009 that were developed as a result of this meeting.
Evaluation of strategies for the decontamination of equipment for Geomyces destructans, the causative agent of WNS, Shelley, at al; Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, v. 75, no. 1.
A world review of fungi, yeasts, and slime molds in caves, Vanderwolf, et al; International Journal of Speleology, January 2013.
Distribution and Persistence of the Causative Agent of White-Nose Syndrome, Geomyces destructans, in Bat Hibernacula of the Eastern United States (Lorch, et al; Applied Environmental Microbiology, 14 December 2012)
Pathology in euthermic bats with white nose syndrome suggests a natural manifestation of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (Metayer, et al; Virulence, Nov. 15, 2012)
WNS Surveillance and Monitoring Report
Bats' Social Behavior Alters WNS Effects
Histopathology Confirms White-Nose Syndrome in Bats in Europe (Pikula, et al; Journal of Wildlife Diseases, Vol. 48, No. 1, Jan. 2012)
Inoculation of bats with European Geomyces destructans supports the novel pathogen hypothesis for the origin of white-nose syndrome (Warnecke, et al; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 9, 2012)
NYDEC Reports Bat Population Rebounds in Original WNS Caves (NYDEC 2012 Winter Bat Survey Reports)
Little Brown Myotis Persist Despite Exposure to WNS
Geographical and Geological Data From Caves and Mines Infected With White-Nose Syndrome (Wns) Before September 2009 in the Eastern United States (Swezey, Garrity; NSS JCKS, Dec. 2011)
Specific Alterations in Complement Protein Activity of Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus) Hibernating in WNS Affected Sites (Moore, et al; PLoS One, Nov 2011)
Geomyces destructans determined to cause WNS; bat to bat transmission proven (Lorch, et al; Nature on line, October 26, 2011)
(D. Lindner, et al, Mycologia 103(2) 2011, pp. 241-246, 10 March 2011)
Clonal Genotype of Geomyces destructans among Bats with White-nose Syndrome, New York, U.S.A. (S.S. Rajkumar, et al, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 17, No. 7, July 2011)
Pan-European Distribution of White-nose Syndrome Fungus Not Associated with Mass Mortality (April 27, 2011; PloS one;
Sebastian Puechemaille et al)
Ecosystem Services Provided by Bats (Annals of the
Wing pathology of WNS in bats suggests life-threatening disruption of physiology (BMC Biology, Nov. 11, 2010)
Tennessee WNS Monitoring Repor (7/19/10)
One Stop Chart of WNS Past and Current Research Projects (Thanks to USFWS)
New Published Research on Geomyces Destructans (posted 6/6/10)
Timing on Demography Little Brown Bats and Implications of WNS on Species Viability British Journal of Animal Ecology, 2009
Scientists' letter of concern to USFWS (11/24/09)
Sterling Rope and Webbing Decon and Stress Results
Special WNS Session at the International Congress of Speleology/NSS Convention
Special Report: WNS Scientific Research Summary and Status
Published Research on WNS-related Fungus
Wing Damage Index for Assessing WNS-Affected Bat
WNS fungus named: Geomyces destructans
WNS webinar from National Institute for
Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS)
Histopathologic criteria to confirm White-nose Syndrome in bats
Rapid PCR Diagnosis of WNS in Bats (Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation)
NSS WNS Information Brochure - Please print and distribute to youth groups, landowners, show cave owners, cavers and others who should know about WNS. (Updated version as of 5/10/13!)
The National Speleological Society and White-nose Syndrome - A brief paper describing the NSS, its history and expertise in cave conservation, and its leadership and involvement with WNS.
NSS News Feature Articles:
"White Nose Syndrome: Pathology, Epidemi-ology, Diagnostics & Management" - 13 Oct 2012
WNS Webinar Presentation by Peter Youngbaer, NSS WNS Liaison - USGS, San Francisco (9/28/2010)
USFWS WNS webinar presentations
A Story Map of WNS - by Bern Szukalski, with assistance from the PGC and BCI (12/12/12)
USFS WNS Brochure now online - designed by our own Cheryl Jones and Mike Dale. Updated October 2011.
USFS Interagency Team Mobilizing to Tackle WNS - Caver contributions acknowledged.
WNS Classroom Education Poster (from Virginia)
Abandoned Mines and Bats Video (Produced by Motionarc Studios for Science North, 2012)
The Battle for Bats! - WNS video -- Share it widely!
National Park Service WNS Videos (2/11/13)
NPS WNS Video - Great Smoky Mountains NP
2009 House Congressional Hearing on WNS - Includes links to NSS and all other testimony, video, photos.
2009 Senate Hearing on WNS - Includes photos, testimony, and complete video transcript.
2011 WNS Advocacy in Congress - Details of the 2011 WNS research budget testimony, prepared by a coalition including the NSS, and presented by BCI.
BCI Map of WNS outbreaks and all known hibernacula
Fungi and Emerging Infectious Disease: Bat White-nose Syndrome
Fungal Disease and the Developing Story of WNS
OTHER WNS LINKS
|Click map for larger view
Photo credits: Top photo: Nancy Heaslip, NYDEC; "Species of Concern," NSS Print Salon HM by Jansen Cardy; WNS Occurance Map by Cal Butchkoski.
WNS Liaison Report to the President/BOG
NSS Response to CBD Petitions (2/25/10)
USFWS WNS Web site
US Fish & Wildife Service WNS Page
Bat Conservation International
Bat Conservation and Management WNS Page
DC Grotto WNS Page
Virginia Cave Board and DCR Karst Office (9/15/09)