Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Culling can't control deadly bat disease

Culling will not stop the spread of a deadly fungus that is threatening to wipe out hibernating bats in North America, according to a new mathematical model.

White-nose syndrome, which is estimated to have killed over a million bats in a three year period, is probably caused by a newly discovered cold-adapted fungus, Geomyces destructans.

The new model examines how WNS is passed from bat to bat and concludes that culling would not work because of the complexity of bat life history and because the fungal pathogen occurs in the caves and mines where the bats live.

"Because the disease is highly virulent, our model results support the hypothesis that transmission occurs in all contact areas," write the paper's authors, Tom Hallam and Gary McCracken, both of the University of Tennessee. "Our simulations indicated culling will not control WNS in bats primarily because contact rates are high among colonial bats, contact occurs in multiple arenas, and periodic movement between arenas occurs."

Ground work on the model was initiated in a 2009 modeling workshop on white-nose syndrome held at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) in Knoxville, Tennessee. At the interdisciplinary workshop, experts in the fields of bat physiology, fungal ecology, ecotoxicology, and epidemiology discussed ways in which mathematical modeling could be applied to predict and control the spread of WNS.

"NIMBioS' support for the workshop that initiated this project was crucial in helping formulate models that could be useful in looking at white-nose syndrome," Hallam said.

Culling of bats in areas where the disease is present is one of several options that have been considered by state and federal agencies as a way to control the disease. However, a review of management options for controlling WNS in the paper indicates that culling is ineffective for disease control in wild animals and in some cases, can exacerbate the spread.

White-nose syndrome first appeared in a cave in upstate New York in 2006, and has since spread to 14 states and as far north as Canada. Regional extinctions of the most common bat species, the little brown bat, are predicted within two decades due to WNS.

Eating up to two-thirds of their body weight in insects every night, bats help suppress insect populations ultimately reducing crop damage and the quantities of insecticides used on crops. Bats also play an important ecological role in plant pollination and seed dissemination.

The National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) ( brings together researchers from around the world to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries to investigate solutions to basic and applied problems in the life sciences. NIMBioS is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Citations: Hallam TG, McCracken GF. 2011. Management of the panzootic white-nose syndrome through culling of bats. Conservation Biology 25(1): 189-194.

Catherine Crawley | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>