Pseudogymnoascus destructans is taking a toll on native Michigan bat species

Michigan Radio(local NPR) had a piece on air last week about the decline in bat populations due to a particularly nasty fungus and wind turbines entitled “Michigan bat population shrinks as fungus and wind turbines take a toll” (We’ll just address the fungus).

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, more than a million bats have fallen victim to the deadly fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans. P. destructans is the causal agent of white-nose syndrome in bats. While bats hibernate during the winter, the fungus will grow on their noses, causing them severe stress and ultimately depleting their fat reserves leading to death.

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Figure 1: Bat suffering from white-nose syndrome. U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE HEADQUARTERS / FLICKR / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The article “Fungus, wind turbines, habitat loss threaten Mich. bats” printed in the Detroit News was the basis of their on air report. The reporter interviewed Dr. Allen Kurta from Eastern Michigan University about bat decline in Michigan. He stated that P. destructans is “probably the biggest threat [to bats].

P. destructans was first found in New York in 2007, and spread to Northern Michigan in 2014. According to the article, it has now spread to 11 counties in Michigan, and causes disease on 5 native species of bats. The species being affected the most are Northern long-eared bats, and it is speculated that the fungus will completely wipe them out in the next decade.

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Figure 2: Map of Michigan counties were P. destructans has been identified.

 

Link to “Fungus, wind turbines, habitat loss threaten Mich. bats” http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/environment/2016/10/09/michigan-bats-threatened/91840912/

Link to Michigan Radio/NPR article: http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-bat-population-shrinks-fungus-and-wind-turbines-take-toll#stream

 

10.19.16

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