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Bats that warm up during hibernation together may better survive white nose syndrome; temperature sensing cameras reveal group activity during hibernation

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Hot imagery of wintering bats suggests group behavior for battling white-nose syndrome  Posted: 05 Jul 2017 01:45 PM PDT

Hot new imagery from temperature-sensing cameras suggests that bats who warm up from hibernation together throughout the winter may be better at surviving white nose syndrome, a disease caused by a cold-loving fungus ravaging insect-eating bat populations in the United States and Canada.

….Every time a bat warms up from hibernation it uses proportionally huge amounts of stored energy, so the fungus likely causes hibernating bats to burn through their winter fat stores too quickly. The new study was the first to use thermal imaging surveillance cameras to non-invasively monitor hibernating bats in their natural habitats for entire winters. The resulting imagery and analyses provide remarkable glimpses into the mysterious behaviors and warm-up patterns of hibernating bats…

….”This result suggests that group arousals during hibernation might be associated with the ability to survive disease, rather than as a precursor to death. Group arousals may enable body temperatures less conducive to fungal growth and increase the bats’ ability to survive disease.”

“Discovering how bats survive infection by the WNS fungus may lead to response actions that enhance bat survival and predict disease risk to different bat species and colonies in different regions,” said USGS researcher and study co-author Paul Cryan….

David T. S. Hayman, Paul M. Cryan, Paul D. Fricker, Nicholas G. Dannemiller. Long-term video surveillance and automated analyses reveal arousal patterns in groups of hibernating bats. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12823



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