Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fungi not so fun: disease endangering species of bats in North America

Conservation ecologists are facing a dilemma that is slowly becoming more pressing: various species of bats across North America are being crippled by the White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), a disease named so for the spreading of a white fungus on the noses of bats. Scientists believe that it may be caused by the fungus Geomyces destructans, though other factors will have to be considered for a certain identification. The fungus, it appears, is well-adapted to the cold and damp environment that is so common to bat caves. According to a recent online article, as many as 1 million bats have been killed since 2006. If a cure or methodology for alleviating the epidemic is not invented soon, numerous bat species will be swept away by extinction. The disease is already making its way into some parts of Europe, though it currently is more prevalent in the North American region. WNS seems to be tampering with the bats' hibernation pattern, causing them to wake up and fly sporadically, thus weakening their bodies as all of the stored up fat is being burned in flight. Janet Foley from UC Davis and a team of scientists are working on diagnosis and developing a treatment.

To read more, and see a photograph of brown fluffiness, visit: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110203081451.htm

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