Virginia is one of many states hard hit by a fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome, which according to a study published Tuesday has killed more than 90 percent of northern long-eared, little brown and tri-colored bats in the U.S. over the past decade.
“Virginia populations have suffered really severe impacts from white-nose syndrome, so there are unfortunately just not that many bats left,” said Virginia Tech infectious disease ecologist Kate Langwig, who has studied the disease extensively.
On Tuesday, a new study funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and published in “Conservation Biology” combined data from 27 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces to produce one of the clearest pictures yet of the disease’s toll on five bat species. [No link provided.]
The bats may need the help. Although one 2015 study by Reynolds, Radford University biologist Karen Powers and three other authors found that some bats have been able to persist despite white-nose syndrome, many are making bad choices. Research by Langwig and Virginia Tech biology research scientist Joseph Hoyt found that bats are continuing to hibernate in warmer subterranean environments where the disease tends to hit them the hardest.