Research ArticleANIMAL ECOLOGY

Environment, host, and fungal traits predict continental-scale white-nose syndrome in bats

Science Advances  29 Jan 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 1, e1500831
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500831

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Abstract

White-nose syndrome is a fungal disease killing bats in eastern North America, but disease is not seen in European bats and is less severe in some North American species. We show that how bats use energy during hibernation and fungal growth rates under different environmental conditions can explain how some bats are able to survive winter with infection and others are not. Our study shows how simple but nonlinear interactions between fungal growth and bat energetics result in decreased survival times at more humid hibernation sites; however, differences between species such as body size and metabolic rates determine the impact of fungal infection on bat survival, allowing European bat species to survive, whereas North American species can experience dramatic decline.

Keywords
  • Emerging infectious disease
  • energetic model
  • Extinction
  • Eptesicus fuscus
  • Eptesicus serotinus
  • fungal pathogen
  • Geomyces destructans
  • hibernation
  • Myotis lucifugus
  • Myotis myotis
  • Pseudogymnoascus destructans

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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