White-nose syndrome

(WNS), caused by the fungal pathogen Pseudogymnoascus destructans, is the most devastating disease currently affecting North American wild mammals. WNS alters the physiology and bioenergetics of bat hibernation, leading to increased arousal frequency and depletion of fat stores. Since the pathogen emerged in 2006, it has caused widespread mortality and threatened several species with extinction. The pathogen has spread throughout eastern and central North America and advancing westward. As the pathogen progresses west, it will infect the hibernacula of new populations and species, increasing pathogen exposure pathways and disrupting the important ecosystem contributions of bats.

This project

will develop the science to help identify species that are susceptible to WNS, and thereby species of management concern. We are using a mechanistic WNS survivorship model to study the interaction between the physiology of the host, the pathogen, and the hibernaculum environment. The survivorship model will be combined with species distribution models to explore the ecology and management of WNS disease dynamics in response to climate change scenarios.