WNS Research Grants

CREDIT: Katie Gillies

Bat Conservation International (BCI) helps lead the fight against this devastating disease. One of our strategies to protect bats is to find ways to improve survival for bats exposed to White-nose Syndrome (WNS). Our WNS Research Grants have provided $628,615 in critical research dollars to help address questions and find solutions for protecting bats. As the leading non-profit focused on bat conservation, we respond to the urgent research needs for bats.

We examine existing research efforts and identify gaps where our funding can make a difference. In addition to our research grants, BCI supports efforts to monitor the spread of WNS and understand its distribution and impact. We participate in projects that use new technologies to monitor important hibernacula. We provide targeted information to managers and decision-makers to assist in WNS preparedness, and establishing concepts for delivering information to our partners, the public and media. Only through active collaboration with scientists, managers, lawmakers and the public will we have a chance to maintain sustainable bat populations in the wake of White-nose Syndrome.

 

Answering the question – where did the fungus come from?

When biologists saw the first mass mortalities in the northeast US in 2007, they suspected that it was caused by the white, fungal growth that had been observed on sick bats. But the fungus was so new to science, it didn’t even have a name at the time. Since then, the fungus has been taxonomically classified as Pseudogymnoascus destructans and confirmed as causative pathogen of WNS.

Our search for the source of Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) in Eurasia continues. Hundreds of samples from more than 30 European countries at 425 sites have been collected and are currently being analyzed. Although the fungus has been found across Eurasia, evidence suggests that the North American strain of Pd originated in Europe. Our partners are using state of the art molecular techniques to isolate the origin of this deadly fungus.

 

Investigating Treatments

Since 2014 Bat Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy’s Tennessee Chapter have been awarding funding to support solution-oriented research projects that work to identify and develop tools to control the fungus that causes WNS. Several tools are showing promise and have been tested in small field trials.

If these research projects are successful, these treatments would provide new tools to help bats survive exposure to the deadly fungus. Each of these research projects brings us closer to building a suite of tools in our toolbox to fight WNS.


Further Reading