Zoology graduate student co-authors widely publicized study on bats

batsPh. D. student Jason Bried (currently working in the Dzialowski lab) co-authored a recent paper in Ecology Letters, which was widely publicized in the media. The study, based on a legacy of observations in the northeastern US, found that bat species are unequally affected by white-nose syndrome (WNS). The two solitary cave bat species were expected to have lower incidence of WNS due to reduced contacts and therefore transmission rates, yet only one species (northern long-eared myotis) was predicted to go extinct whereas the other (tri-colored bat) may stabilize; the reasons for this dichotomy are unclear. Out of four gregarious cave-dwelling species, two appear to have relatively stable populations (big brown and eastern small-footed bats). Declines in the Indiana bat (federally listed as endangered) and the little brown bat were more severe, but the Indiana showed continuing declines whereas the little brown showed attenuating declines over time. The difference here may be attributed to proportionately fewer little brown bats roosting in large aggregations after WNS. This is encouraging news given that the little brown, once the most common bat species in North America, was predicted in a recent WNS study to go extinct in about 15 years. The research also showed that the coolest and driest caves may offer refuge from the disease.

Check out some of the news coverage - among many others - in the New York Times, Science Magazine, USA Today, and Scientific American.