Bats

Could White-Nose Syndrome Manifest Differently in Myotis Lucifugus in Western Versus Eastern Regions of North America? A Review of Factors

Blejwas, K., Beard, L., Buchanan, J., Lausen, C. L., Neubaum, D., Tobin, A., & Weller, T. J.


Abstract

White-nose syndrome (WNS) has notably affected the abundance of Myotis lucifugus (little brown myotis) in North America. Thus far, substantial mortality has been restricted to the eastern part of the continent where the cause of WNS, the invasive fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has infected bats since 2006. To date, the state of Washington is the only area in the Western US or Canada (the Rocky Mountains and further west in North America) with confirmed cases of WNS in bats, and there the disease has spread more slowly than it did in Eastern North America. Here, we review differences between M. lucifugus in western and eastern parts of the continent that may affect transmission, spread, and severity of WNS in the West and highlight important gaps in knowledge. We explore the hypothesis that western M. lucifugus may respond differently to WNS on the basis of different hibernation strategies, habitat use, and greater genetic structure. To document the effect of WNS on M. lucifugus in the West most effectively, we recommend focusing on maternity roosts for strategic disease surveillance and monitoring abundance. We further recommend continuing the challenging work of identifying hibernation and swarming sites to better understand the microclimates, microbial communities, and role in disease transmission of these sites, as well as the ecology and hibernation physiology of bats in noncavernous hibernacula.

Recommended citation

Blejwas, K., Beard, L., Buchanan, J., Lausen, C. L., Neubaum, D., Tobin, A., & Weller, T. J. (2023). Could White-Nose Syndrome Manifest Differently in Myotis Lucifugus in Western Versus Eastern Regions of North America? A Review of Factors. Journal of Wildlife Diseases.. https://doi.org/10.7589/JWD-D-22-00050

Cori Lausen

Cori Lausen

Director of Bat Conservation

As deadly white-nose syndrome spreads west, bat biologists race to prepare

As deadly white-nose syndrome spreads west, bat biologists race to prepare

Disease has appeared for the first time in Manitoba, Minnesota and Wyoming
Cori Lausen