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Assessing White-nose Syndrome in the Context of Non-Stationary Conditions in an Advancing Continental Epidemic
Hibernating bat species across North America face a dangerous introduced environmental pathogen, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which causes white-nose syndrome (WNS). WNS is an imminent extinction threat to susceptible bat species found on Department of Defense installations and neighboring lands. Our goal was to predict the impacts of WNS and fill the critical ecological, physiological, behavioral, and environmental knowledge gaps for western species before WNS arrived. To achieve this goal our objectives were to: (1) collect robust morphometric, bioenergetic, and hibernacula environmental data on up to five western NorthAmerican bat species representing different hibernating behaviors and geographic settings at three to five sites each year; (2) examine the transferability of a mechanistic WNS bioenergetics survivorship model (based on host, pathogen, and environmental characteristics) developed for bat species affected by WNS in the East to a set of five representative bat species found in the West; (3) develop approaches that integrate the mechanistic WNS survivorship model with species distribution models to evaluate the presence of WNS with plausible scenarios of non-stationary conditions (e.g. climate change) and to explore the sensitivity of the integrated model to different parameters and data availability; and (4) disseminate knowledge and findings through scientific meetings and peer-reviewed literature..
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