Resolution on White-Nose Syndrome in Bats

Adopted May 2009, Amended October 2014

WHEREAS, white-nose syndrome is a disease that is killing millions of bats in eastern North America (Turner et al. 2011); and

WHEREAS, mortality of affected bats at hibernacula can approach 100%, and in just six winters since its discovery in New York, white-nose syndrome has become a crisis that has spread across 25 states and five Canadian provinces by spring 2014 (Blehert et al. 2009, White-nosesyndrome.org 2014); and as the disease continues to spread and affect multiple species of hibernating bats, extirpations and extinctions of species are possible within the next decade (Frick et al. 2010); and

WHEREAS, white-nose syndrome is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus (formerly Geomyces) destructans that is likely an exotic/invasive species against which North American bats have not exhibited evolved resistance at a population level (Warnecke et al. 2012, Minnis and Lindner 2013); and

WHEREAS, P. destructans is presumed to spread naturally through bat-to-bat and substrate-to-bat contact, and human activity has the potential to contribute to its spread (Lorch et al. 2013); and

WHEREAS, bat populations could be put at risk through researcher-mediated transportation of P. destructans on field equipment and clothing, requiring diligence in movements of gear and adherence to decontamination procedures to reduce said risks; and

WHEREAS, North American bats have never faced as dire a threat as white-nose syndrome in recorded history; and

WHEREAS, there is an urgent need to understand this threat through scientifically sound research, population monitoring, and disease surveillance, to find ways of minimizing its impacts on bats; and

WHEREAS, bats are primary predators of insects that fly at night, including many of our most costly agricultural and forest pests; and

WHEREAS, this disease has the potential to spread rapidly across most of Canada and the United States, likely creating an ecological disaster; and

WHEREAS, although the rapid and coordinated response to white-nose syndrome helped quickly identify the cause of the disease, many important questions remain, and additional and consistent funding is needed to support critical research and monitoring that are aimed at preventing extinctions of species due to white-nose syndrome and at developing effective recovery strategies;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the North American Society for Bat Research, meeting at its 44th Annual Meeting at Albany, New York, 22–25 October 2014, voices grave concern regarding the future of bat populations currently affected by and susceptible to white-nose syndrome; be it further resolved that NASBR calls upon appropriate organizations to support and coordinate sustained population monitoring, disease surveillance, and research efforts aimed at this devastating disease in order to try and minimize its effects on hibernating bats in North America.

References

Blehert, D. S., A. C. Hicks, M. Behr, C. U. Meteyer, B. M. Berlowski-Zier, E. L. Buckles, J. T. H. Coleman, S. R. Darling, A. Gargas, R. Niver, J. C. Okoniewski, R. J. Rudd, and W. B. Stone. 2009. Bat white-nose syndrome: an emerging fungal pathogen? Science 323:227.

Boyles, J.G., P.M. Cryan, G.F. McCracken, and T.H. Kunz. 2011. Economic importance of bats in agriculture. Science 332:41–42.

Frick, W. F., J. F. Pollock, A. C. Hicks, K. E. Langwig, D. S. Reynolds, G. R. Turner, C. M. Butchkoski, and T. H. Kunz. 2010. An emerging disease causes regional population collapse of a common North American bat species. Science 329:679–682.

Lorch, J. M., L. K. Muller, R. E. Russell, M. O’Connor, D. L. Lindner, and D. S. Blehert. 2013. Distribution and environmental persistence of the causative agent of white-nose syndrome, Geomyces destructans, in bat hibernacula of the Eastern United States. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 79:1293–1301.

Minnis, A. M. and D. L. Lindner. 2013. Phylogenetic evaluation of Geomyces and allies reveals no close relatives of Pseudogymnoascus destructans, comb. nov., in bat hibernacula of eastern North America. Fungal Biology 117:638–649.

Turner, G. G., D. M. Reeder, and J. T. H. Coleman. 2011. A five-year assessment of mortality and geographic spread of white-nose syndrome in North American bats and a look to the future. Bat Research News 52:13–27.

Warnecke, L., J. M. Turner, T. K. Bollinger, J. M. Lorch, V. Misra, P. M. Cryan, G. Wibbelt, D. S. Blehert, and C. K. R. Willis. 2012. Inoculation of a North American bat with European Geomyces destructans supports the novel pathogen hypothesis for the origin of white-nose syndrome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 109:6999–7003.

White-nosesyndrome.org. 2014. Where is it now? Available online at: http://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/about/where-is-it-now. Accessed 15 March 2014.


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