Science Diary: Bats – Unknown Disease

music; ambience: bat squeaks, healthy cave

Listen carefully and you can hear the sounds of bats. They were recorded in 2007 in an abandoned mine in upstate New York. This region was once a haven for six species of hibernating bats, including the endangered Indiana bat. But in the course of a year, everything has changed. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Al Hicks is a wildlife biologist with the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“I started working on bats in NY state in 1979 and have been the bat specialist for the endangered species program ever since. Every two years, biologists like myself across the eastern US go into all the caves and mines that have Indiana bats, and they count them. And so we’ve had this trend information since the 80s. Just in the last few years, that trend had turned around and was going up again and everybody was very excited about it until last year, doing one of our surveys and we found literally thousands of dead animals laying in the cave and since the 1930’s, there’s always been Indiana bats in every winter survey that even the early researchers had done. They’re gone. And that caused us to start looking in other sites in the area. And we found a total of four places that had this whatever the problem was they’re affected sites, and we found dead animals. And that was last year. We started again this year to survey even more closely. We visited sites that last year were clean and now they are affected as well.”

Hundreds of thousands of hibernating bats have been affected by this disease, and its cause is still unknown. For the latest information from the field, check out our blog on pulseplanet.com.

Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Science Diary: Bats - Unknown Disease

For several years, Indiana bat populations have grown. Now, these winged mammals are dying in droves, and the reasons are unclear.
Air Date:05/05/2008
Scientist:
Transcript:

music; ambience: bat squeaks, healthy cave

Listen carefully and you can hear the sounds of bats. They were recorded in 2007 in an abandoned mine in upstate New York. This region was once a haven for six species of hibernating bats, including the endangered Indiana bat. But in the course of a year, everything has changed. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Al Hicks is a wildlife biologist with the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation.

"I started working on bats in NY state in 1979 and have been the bat specialist for the endangered species program ever since. Every two years, biologists like myself across the eastern US go into all the caves and mines that have Indiana bats, and they count them. And so we've had this trend information since the 80s. Just in the last few years, that trend had turned around and was going up again and everybody was very excited about it until last year, doing one of our surveys and we found literally thousands of dead animals laying in the cave and since the 1930's, there's always been Indiana bats in every winter survey that even the early researchers had done. They're gone. And that caused us to start looking in other sites in the area. And we found a total of four places that had this whatever the problem was they're affected sites, and we found dead animals. And that was last year. We started again this year to survey even more closely. We visited sites that last year were clean and now they are affected as well."

Hundreds of thousands of hibernating bats have been affected by this disease, and its cause is still unknown. For the latest information from the field, check out our blog on pulseplanet.com.

Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.