WNS is in the province of Manitoba (May, 2018), the disease is encroaching on our proverbial doorstep and action plans are essential to support the survival of these economically vital species.
White Nose Syndrome is caused by an introduced pathogenic fungus (Psudeogymnoascus destructans). An infected bat can be clearly identified by a concentrated white growth around the nasal region, which can then spread to the ears and wings. It is propagated by infected bats in hibernacula; since they roost in such close proximity, it spreads rapidly from bat to bat.
It does not kill them directly, but instead triggers arousal during hibernation; that leads to increased metabolic activity and therefore lowers body fat percentage. Because they have a lower body fat percentage due to the increase in metabolic activity, they wake up needing more food in order to sustain themselves throughout hibernation. The freezing temperatures and limited food supply during the winter months ultimately lead to their demise.
How does this link to our project? We are attempting to provide early and late season bat houses that provide thermal stability for the microbats. Thermal stability will equate to decreased metabolic demand and increased fat reserves entering and exiting from hibernation.