Preparing for the Emergence of White Nose Syndrome in Iowa
Since its discovery in 2006, White Nose Syndrome (WNS) has caused the death of millions of bats and infected more than 100 bat hibernacula throughout at least 22 states and 5 Canadian provinces. This disease, caused by the fungal pathogen Pseudogymnoascus destructans, infests caves and infects the exposed dermal tissue of hibernating bats causing frequent periods of arousal, the depletion of critical fat stores, and death. As it spreads westward, WNS has become a threat to the agricultural services bats provide through the predation of pest insects to communities throughout the Midwest, including Iowa. The first step in making sure we are prepared to address this threat is to determine the current status of Iowa bat populations. In order to do this, we designed an acoustic monitoring study to record bat calls and the locations of these calls along a series of drive transects in eight counties in Iowa during the summer of 2013. In this talk, we will a) discuss the methodology associated with acoustic monitoring to document bat activity and identify bat species, b) describe the development of the drive-transect surveys that we used to monitor Iowa bats, and c) discuss our results. The data collected from this study will serve as a foundation for the future monitoring of Iowa bat populations and to monitor the recovery of affected populations.