FINDING PSEUDOGYMNOASCUS DESTRUCTANS IN TWO SIGNIFICANT NEW MEXICO BAT HIBERNACULA
|Debbie C. Buecher; Buecher Biological Consulting; firstname.lastname@example.org; Diana Northup, Marikay Ramsey, Jennifer Hathaway|
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a novel bat disease caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd). The visual manifestation of Pd is white fungal growth around bats’ noses, on forearms and tail membranes. It was first observed on hibernating bats in a cave in New York during winter 2006-2007. This invasive fungus prefers sites with cold, humid conditions, which bats also choose for winter hibernation. It is a keratin-loving fungus that breaks down cell walls in bats’ membranes – disrupting physiological functions for the bat and frequently leading to their death. Since 2009 we have monitored the microclimates in two gypsum caves in south-central New Mexico (NM) managed by BLM. Despite being caves in the arid Southwest, these caves have optimal microclimate for Pd to flourish. Cave myotis (Myotis velifer) use these two sites to hibernate in tight clusters, increasing the chances for fungal spores spreading among individuals. In mid-April 2021 we entered these sites to swab bats for Pd during which we found bats with visible fungus on their noses within clusters of conspecifics. This is the first documentation that Pd is definitely and visually in NM. We will discuss the possible implications and management issues of Pd for NM bats.