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Local to global pathogen and host dynamics of an emerging fungal disease, white-nose syndrome


Emerging infectious diseases present a major threat to wildlife populations and have the ability to drive once common species towards extinction. Increasing globalization has resulted in accelerated change in climate, increased anthropogenic movement, and land-use alterations leading to the emergence of infectious diseases in both humans, agriculture and wildlife. Studying disease dynamics at different contexts and scales can provide insight into alternative levers of conservation action. White-nose syndrome, a disease of hibernating bats, was first detected in single tourist cave in northern New York. Pseudogymnoascus destructans the fungal pathogen responsible for WNS has since spread across much of eastern North America causing the collapse of hibernating bat populations. P. destructans was likely introduced to North America from Eurasia, where it is widely distributed, and has likely been present for thousands of years. The data in this dissertation provide insight into the factors determining temporal variation in mortality from WNS. In addition, we will also provide insight into the mechanisms that contribute to species differences in pathogen transmission. More broadly this research provides a synthesis of data across multiple WNS disease contexts, and highlight the substantial conservation insight that can be gained through this approach.

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