Declines in summer bat activity in central New England 4 years following the initial detection of white-nose syndrome
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White-nose syndrome (WNS) was first reported in a hibernating bat population in central New York State in February 2006. Since 2006, WNS has been reported from bat hibernacula across much of eastern United States and adjacent Canada and has been associated with a dramatic decline in the populations of hibernating bats in the northeastern U.S. We are only beginning to discover how these declines are manifest in changes in summer bat abundance and activity at local scales. A 3-year (2004–2006) acoustic survey showed that the forested watershed of the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts supported an abundant and species-rich summer bat community. In 2010, 4-years following the initial occurrence of WNS, a re-survey of the same habitats and sites found a 72% reduction in bat activity on the watershed. This is the identical rate of decline reported from cave hibernacula surveys (73%). This decline in summer activity levels is most likely a consequence of WNS-caused mortality. The impacts of population losses of this magnitude of a once widespread and abundant taxa are unknown but are presumed to be ecologically significant.
KeywordsAcoustic survey AnaBat Myotis Summer activity White-nose syndrome
I very much appreciate the assistance of T. Humphrey is conducting the 2010 bat activity survey. The Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Water Supply Protection, Quabbin Watershed authorized the full access to the Quabbin watershed for the bat surveys. Critical reviews of the draft manuscript were provided by K. Nislow and W. M. Ford.
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