Determining the Drivers of Species and Population Extinction in the Emerging Infectious Disease of Bats, White-Nose Syndrome
- Author(s): Langwig, Kate Elizabeth
- Advisor(s): Kilpatrick, A. Marm;
- Frick, Winifred F.
- et al.
Emerging infectious diseases pose a key threat to wildlife, and the number of disease
emergence events is increasing. Despite the importance of disease in wildlife
conservation, understanding the drivers of population and species extinction from
disease has not been tested in an empirical framework. My research incorporates
empirical and theoretical approaches to understand factors that influence pathogen
transmission and disease impacts. Here, we focus on the emerging fungal disease of
bats, white-nose syndrome, which has caused widespread declines in bat populations
across Eastern North America. Our findings highlight the importance of social
behavior, microclimate conditions, and seasonality in driving impacts from this
disease. We also identify a species, the Northern long-eared bat, which is likely to go
extinct if rapid management action is not taken. These data provide critical
information needed to manage wildlife disease epidemics, enabling management
action prior to species extinction.