By Katy TerBerg
Dr. Maarten Vonhof, associate professor of biological sciences wants to know what’s causing “the worst wildlife health crisis in memory.” According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, it’s White Nose Syndrome (WNS) in North American bats, and Vonhof recently was awarded $180,000 to further his research on WNS.
WNS is a fungal disease which has killed millions of bats in eastern North America. Vonhof and his research team plan to test a new, biocompatible and inexpensive compound to aid in slowing the growth of the fungal infection. The compound, said Vonhof, is shown to “not have any harmful effects on the bats.”
So far, Arcadia National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the states of Alaska and Kentucky have confirmed the existence of WNS, and additional reports in Liberty Park, Ohio, and the states of Delaware, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont and New Hampshire point to the need for a solution.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, White Nose Syndrome is “the worst wildlife health crisis in memory.”
Vonhof comes to the project with a long history of work focused on temperate and tropical bats and birds. He relates his findings on habitat use, dispersal, and social behavior to patterns of population differentiation at multiple spatial scales, ranging from local genetic variation to range-wide patterns of phylogeography.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is an organization dedicated to “conserving the nature of America,” and the conservation of wildlife animals, including bats, is included in their mission statement advocating conservation.
Dr. Vonhof’s profile.
WMU Department of Biological Sciences
U.S. Fish & Wildlife’s overview of White Nose Syndrome.