Research highlight

Ecology: Modelling the characteristics of a disease in North American bats

Nature Communications

December 19, 2012

The spread of White-nose syndrome in bats across North America is increased by the species’ patchy habitat distribution as well as longer winters in the region, finds a study published in Nature Communications this week. This suggests that the spreading pattern of the disease matches the ecological traits of the bats - a discovery that could help inform the management of the disease.

White-nose syndrome, a condition in caused by a fungus which leads to large number of premature deaths, has spread in North American Vespertilionid bats throughout eastern United States and Canada. Sean Maher and colleagues modelled data on the county-scale infection history of the disease to determine the mechanism of spreading and how this is affected by bat ecology. Their simulations predict a rapid spread of the disease to most counties with caves in the contiguous United States by winter 2105-2106.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms2301

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