If you’re worried about Florida Key deer dying of thirst or starvation following Hurricane Irma, an expert on the tiny creatures has one word of advice: don’t.
Monitoring for white-nose syndrome
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a disease affecting hibernating bats. The disease, named for the distinct white fungus that appears on the muzzle, ears and/or wing membranes of hibernating bats, has led to widespread mortality of bats in eastern North America. The fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, or P. destructans, grows in cold and humid environments, such as caves where bats are commonly found hibernating.
In February 2006, researchers first documented evidence of WNS in a photograph taken of a bat in Howes Cave just west of Albany, New York. Since then, the fungus that causes WNS has spread north into Canada, and south and westward across the United States.
The fungus spreads from bat-to-bat and can also spread from humans into bat environments. Thus, anyone who works around bats follows the white nose syndrome decontamination procedure to help reduce the spread of the fungus.
The cold-adapted fungus causing the disease irritates the skin of the bat, disrupting its hibernation and causing it to deplete its fat reserves at a faster rate.
As the fungus continues to spread west, more bats are coming into contact with it. Because the disease does not develop within the first year of documenting the fungus, bats in the P. destructans positive column may end up in the WNS positive column. On-going research projects aim to monitor the spread of the disease and potentially find a treatment for bats in Texas, a state with the greatest bat fauna diversity in the U.S.
Most recently, our research provides a better understanding of what factors affect the microclimate near roosting bat species, like the declining tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus), to aid roost site conservation and management.
Melissa Meierhofer joined the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute in 2015 as a research associate. Her research is focused on understanding the susceptibility of winter-roosting bats to white-nose syndrome, a cold-adapt…
Ten-year projection of white-nose syndrome disease dynamics at the southern leading-edge of infection in North America
Melissa B. Meierhofer, Thomas M. Lilley, Lasse Ruokolainen, Joseph S. Johnson, Steven Parratt, Michael L. Morrison, Brian L. Pierce, Jonah W. Evans, Jani Anttila
External temperature and distance from nearest entrance influence microclimates of cave and culvert‐roosting tri‐colored bats (Perimyotis subflavus)
Samantha J. Leivers, Melissa B. Meierhofer, Brian L. Pierce, Jonah W. Evans, Michael L. Morrison
Winter habitats of bats in Texas
Melissa B. Meierhofer, Joseph S. Johnson, Samantha J. Leivers, Brian L. Pierce, Jonah W. Evans, Michael L. Morrison
Structural and environmental predictors of presence and abundance of tri-colored bats in Texas culverts
Melissa B Meierhofer, Samantha J Leivers, Rachel R Fern, Lilianna K Wolf, John H Young, Jr., Brian L Pierce, Jonah W Evans, Michael L Morrison
Field Identification Key and Guide for Bats of the United States of America
Clint N. Morgan, Loren K. Ammerman, Krysta D. Demere, Jeffrey B. Doty, Yoshinori J. Nakazawa, and Matthew R. Mauldin
Bats recovering from white-nose syndrome elevate metabolic rate during wing healing in spring
Melissa B. Meierhofer, Joseph S. Johnson, Kenneth A. Field, Shayne S. Lumadue, Allen Kurta, Joseph A. Kath, and DeeAnn M. Reeder
Use of Box-Beam Bridges as Day Roosts by Mexican Free-tailed Bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) in Texas
Melissa B. Meierhofer, Hsiao-Hsuan Wang, William E. Grant, John H. Young Jr., Lauren H. Johnston, Lilianna K. Wolf , Jonah W. Evans, Brian L. Pierce, Joseph M. Szewczak and Michael L. Morrison
Florida Key Deer Screwworm Final Report (Phase II)
Israel. D. Parker, Brian. L. Pierce, Jared. T. Beaver, Nova J. Silvy, Roel. R. Lopez and Donald. S. Davis
Florida Key Deer Screwworm Final Report (Phase I)
Roel R. Lopez., Israel. D. Parker, Nova. J. Silvy, Brian. L. Pierce, Jared. T. Beaver, Alison. A. Lund
For the past several months, a Texas A&M University System institute has been actively involved in efforts to quash a screwworm outbreak in Florida that has jeopardized an already endangered species.
The Summer 2020 NRI Sourcebook (V1:I1) is here, a digital collection complete with the recently published peer-reviewed scientific publications, research reports, and resources developed to support the improvement of conservation, natural resource management and private land stewardship.
The Texas A&M University Key deer team was recently honored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Southeast Region as a 2016 Regional Recovery Champion.
After being eradicated from the United States for more than 30 years, New World screwworm flies reappeared in the lower Florida Keys this year. Screwworms have infested the endangered Florida Key deer population, which is spread across 11 islands. Approximately 130 deer, mostly males, have been killed by or euthanized due to the infestation, according to researchers.