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Deadly fungus threatens 9 bat species in Ga., Ky., N.C., S.C. and Tenn., expert says
Date:4/7/2010

caves in the karst regions of North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. Thus they too could be infected with WNS and suffer dramatic declines. However, this species also roosts in large hollow trees and other structures in the coastal plain regions and may be safe from the disease in part of its range."

Bats play an important role in keeping forests and other landscapes healthy and productive. One of their primary roles is insect, or pest, control. A handful of bats can eat thousands of mosquito-sized insects in one night. In tropical and subtropical regions bats also pollinate many agricultural plants and help with seed dispersal. Unfortunately, most bat populations in the United States have declined over the years. Habitat loss and disturbance and degradation of hibernacula and maternity roosts are major contributors to their decline.

Loeb is among the many scientists actively studying the spread of WNS. Her research on bat migration will help in monitoring and predicting the spread of WNS in the South. She is also collaborating with partners in the public and private sectors to produce a searchable bat database that will enable researchers to better track populations in the East. The database will serve as a central repository that will provide new insights into bat distributions and movements, which is critical for understanding and predicting the spread of WNS. Other Forest Service offices, Clemson University, and the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network and Northeastern Bat Working Group are partners in the project.

Additionally, Loeb is studying bat habitat associations in the southern United States and results from these studies could be used to help restore certain bat species and populations in the event that WNS becomes widespread in the South.

Loeb remains in close contact with biologists and researchers in the Forest Service's National Forest System Regional Offices and Northern Research Station to address WNS, as well as
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Contact: Stevin Westcott
swestcott@fs.fed.us
828-259-0512
Southern Research Station - USDA Forest Service
Source:Eurekalert

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