September 23, 2011
Yellowstone Bats and White-Nose Syndrome
The Yellowstone Park Foundation is funding a project to address a deadly threat to Yellowstone's bats
White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a disease that strikes hibernating bats. It is thought to be caused by a fungus* that disrupts hibernation, and causes bats to deplete their crucial body reserves needed to survive over the winter.
WNS has decimated bat populations in several states in the eastern U.S. and is moving westward. Biologists believe it is only a matter of time until it reaches Yellowstone.
To address the risk of WNS in Yellowstone’s ten bat species, the Yellowstone Park Foundation is funding a monitoring program for the early detection of White-Nose Syndrome in the park. The project will also include the development of a longer-term plan to conserve bats in the future.
The study uses sound recordings, remote cameras, and radio transmitters. The researchers use these tools to track bat activity, estimate the number of bats at known roost sites, identify migratory behavior, and determine the location of hibernation sites in Yellowstone.
Bats are especially prone to extinction. Sadly, more than 50% of bat species in the U.S. are in severe decline or already listed as endangered. One reason is that mother bats produce just a single offspring each year, making it difficult for bat populations to rebound from disease outbreaks.
With your support, the Yellowstone Park Foundation can continue to fund this and other critical research programs and help ensure the survival of Yellowstone’s native species.
Learn more about Yellowstone wildlife research, conservation, and education projects funded by the Yellowstone Park Foundation.
*UPDATE 10/27/11: New research by the U.S.G.S. and its partners confirms that the fungus, Geomyces destructions, is the cause of WNS. While scientists knew that the fungus caused the white noses on infected bats, they were not sure if the fungus was the cause or a symptom of the disease.