NIMBioS Investigative Workshop
Modeling White Nose Syndrome in Bats
Group photo, NIMBioS Investigative Workshop on Modeling White Nose Syndrome in Bats
Topic: Modeling White Nose Syndrome (WNS) in Bats at the Individual and Colony Levels: Epizootiology and Management
Meeting dates: June 29 - July 1, 2009
Thomas G. Hallam (Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville)
Gary F. McCracken (Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville)
|Agenda (PDF)||Participants||Evaluation report (PDF)|
Objectives. The epizootiology of White Nose Syndrome (WNS) in bats is best described as partially understood. Indeed, there are uncertainties and questions about the pathogenesis of the disease although it is understood that the fungi Geomyces sp. play a significant role in the onset and progression of the disease. The purpose of this workshop was to develop modeling directions to help assist in the understanding of the temporal and spatial scales, the pathology, and the physiology of bats during WNS stress and ultimately to lead to managed control of the disease.
Summary Report. The NIMBioS Investigative Workshop on White Nose Syndrome in Bats (WNS) was held on June 30 – July 2, 2009 with 37 participants from all over the United States. The participants included a diverse array of academicians (primarily theoreticians and biologists), wildlife managers from NGOs, and state and federal government representatives. The focus of the workshop was to understand and mitigate WNS, which is now recognized as the major threat to bats in North America. The workshop was preceded by a webinar held on June 25 featuring 12 speakers who provided background materials necessary for the workshop. The workshop itself consisted of breakout discussion groups that focused on specialized topics and themes, and plenary discussions that focused on results and mitigation needs. Breakout discussion sessions included modeling and fungi, modeling and bat ecology relevant to WNS, modeling perspectives and utility to WNS, and modeling and management.
Recognitions and recommendations of the workshop include the following:
- Preliminary work has indicated that the pathogen is an exotic fungus, Geomyces destructans; that the epizootic emanated from a point source in a cave near Albany NY; and that the transmission of WNS is primarily bat-to-bat.
- The disease is at a critical stage in that it has spread rapidly and has disastrous effects on many species of bats.
- A primary concern for managers is the ability to scientifically predict when and where the fungus will next occur, which at present is a "best guess."
- Management has a strong need for models that can aid in decisions about mitigation of WNS. Identification of onset time of infectivity of the bats in hibernacula is of special concern for remediation actions.
- Properly formulated models can help organize the material, provide directions for experimental work, provide a synthesis of the data, and project testable conclusions about WNS on several temporal and spatial scales. Modeling should be pursued as important components of the WNS analysis and management.
WNS Plans for the Future. Immediate time scale plans include organizing groups of workshop participants to meet a July 31, 2009 deadline for proposals for a special U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funding initiative on WNS. At this stage no modeling groups have actively pursued funding for WNS research, but with impetus from this workshop, at least one modeling proposal will address this RFP. Another group that has emerged from the workshop is exploring chemical and veterinary intervention to the spread of the disease. Plans were presented to convene a small group of modelers and biologists to organize the modeling efforts for WNS, hopefully through the auspices of NIMBioS. In August, we plan to present a proposal to NIMBioS that will form a working group on WNS. This group will be a select but diverse group including several participants from the workshop.
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NIMBioS Investigative Workshops focus on broad topics or a set of related topics, summarizing/synthesizing the state of the art and identifying future directions. Organizers and key invited researchers make up half the 30-40 participants in a workshop, and the remaining 15-20 participants are filled through open application from the scientific community. Open applicants selected to attend are notified by NIMBioS within two weeks of the application deadline. Investigative Workshops have the potential for leading to one or more future Working Groups. Individuals with a strong interest in the topic, including post-docs and graduate students, are encouraged to apply. If needed, NIMBioS can provide support (travel, meals, lodging) for Workshop attendees, whether from a non-profit or for-profit organization.
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