White nose syndrome is a disease killing hundreds of thousands of hibernating bats since first identified in a cave near Albany in 2006. The disease has since killed 90 to 100 percent of bats in some caves and mines from Vermont to Virginia. Diseased bats die during or as they prematurely emerge from hibernation with low body fat causing a fatal negative energy balance. The cause of this disease is likely multi-factoral including a fungus causing the white appearance of the nose.
Bat photo courtesy of Al Hicks, NYSDEC. Recording device photo courtesy of Carl Herzog, NYSDEC.
During July 2009 under the direction of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Seneca Park Zoo citizen scientist volunteers recorded bat echolocation vocalizations at dusk on five routes across western New York. The goal was to measure baseline bat population levels since each species of bat has a signature vocalization allowing DEC scientists to correlate the recording with bat species diversity and numbers. We will continue to assist DEC wildlife biologists gather bat population data in western New York as scientists learn more about the cause and hopefully control of white nose syndrome. For more information, click here.