Social Disease Infecting Cuddly Bats!

Our adorable local little brown bat is in danger of being wiped out by a devastating social disease, mostly because our bats are just too darn cuddly.

(Bat with white-nose fungus is easy to spot in this cluster. Close contact spreads disease)

A recent article at ScienceDaily.com reveals that bats which cuddle closely, especial during hibernation, spread the deadly disease known as white-nose syndrome or white-nose fungus that has been ravaging local bat colonies. [1]

(There’s a reason it’s called white-nose syndrome)

The article says, “Species that hibernate in dense clusters even as their populations get smaller will continue to transmit the disease at a high rate, dooming them to continued decline, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz. One gregarious species has surprised researchers, however, by changing its social behavior.”

(The stand-offishness of the lone bat [left] may be the key to its survival [2])

And which species is bucking the trend?

“The little brown bat, one of the most common bat species in the northeast, appears to be changing its social behavior, going from a species that preferred to roost in dense clusters to one in which most bats now roost apart from other bats. “Our analysis suggests that the little brown bats are probably not going to go extinct because they are changing their social behavior in a way that will result in them persisting at smaller populations,” said study coauthor A. Marm Kilpatrick, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz.

Hurray!

By being a bit more aloof, adopting a wide ‘personal space’ and not clustering as has been traditionally the case, the little brown bat is adapting and, with a bit of luck, can overcome this deadly disorder.

Well done, guys. We’re wishing you the best of luck. [3]

aa-tribalfang

___________________________________________________________

[1] U.S. scientists are estimating that between 5.7 million and 6.7 million bats in Canada and the United States have succumbed to white-nose syndrome, a fungus spreading in eastern North America. The mortality figures were released in January, 2012, by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

[2] The white-nose syndrome fungus can be seen on little brown bats hibernating in a mine in upstate New York, but the one separate from the clustered bats appears fungus-free. (Credit: Al Hicks, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.)

[3] Living as I do in southern Ontario, I am all in favour of any animal which eats more than its weight in flying insects. Bats, frogs, toads, spiders… you name it, I’m a fan!

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2 comments on “Social Disease Infecting Cuddly Bats!

  1. Michi Rezin says:

    Happy to hear they’re starting to catch on!

    • vampyrefangs says:

      Me too, thank goodness. It would be such a shame if these little darlings disappeared. Thanks for your comments! 🙂

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