Animal Survey Specialists for the Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS), recently returned from fieldwork in southeast Minnesota. This part of the state has streams, forest tracts, and a network of winter hibernacula, perfect for bat habitat.
"This past winter marked year-three of the documented presence of the bat-specific disease, White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) in the southeast corner of the state. WNS is correlated with steep population declines in the number of bats that hibernate. Mystery Cave has seen a 70% drop in hibernating bats. Will this summer’s mist net surveys show a similar decline?” asks MBS zoologist Melissa Boman.
White Nose Syndrome is a disease caused by a fungus that affects hibernating bats. It has devastated bat populations and has been found in 32 US states and 5 provinces in Canada. Through research and surveying fieldwork, MBS has joined the international effort to better understand the disease, control the spread, and find a possible treatment.
Boman continues “We spent multiple weeks netting different locations across the southeast, capturing few bats and none of our target female species (Northern Long-eared, Tricolored and Little Brown Bat). We decided to return to locations surveyed in 2017, where we had success with minimal netting effort. We were able to deploy seven transmitters on the federally threatened female Northern Long-eared Bat and two transmitters on female Little Brown bats. This will allow us to learn more about maternity roosts and reproductive habitat for bats impacted by WNS.”