Community News

While bats hibernate, scientists hope for survival
11/2/2017 Volume XLVII, No. 44

As temperatures cool and daylight hours shorten, New Jersey’s non-migrating bats have gone into hibernation.

For the last decade, hibernation for New Jersey’s bats has been unusually precarious. A disease known as white-nose syndrome – caused by a fungus – has decimated many bat species by scarring their wings and disrupting hibernation patterns, causing them to wake and fly around when they should be sleeping. After depleting their energy reserves, the bats die from starvation, thirst and exhaustion.

The little brown bat is most affected. This once common bat has now lost nearly 99 percent of its population. In 2007, before white-nose syndrome struck, the state’s largest bat cave (or hibernaculum) – the old Hibernia Mine in Morris County – was the winter home for 34,000 little brown bats. Today, the number is down to about 400.

But there may be hope. The devastating losses appear to be leveling off. MacKenzie Hall, a biologist with the state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program, said the year-to-year survival rate for little brown bats is almost back to normal. “They’re still not growing in number, but they’re almost leveling,” she said.

Scientific understanding of white-nose syndrome is expanding, due in part to the contrast between the plight of little brown bats and the success of another New Jersey species, big brown bats.

Big brown bat numbers are growing, and they seem unaffected by white-nose syndrome.

Why? One difference between big browns and little browns is where they hibernate. Many big brown bats hibernate in cold, dry attics instead of caves, reducing their exposure to the warmer temperatures and higher humidity found inside caves and abandoned mines. Big browns that do hibernate in caves stay closer to entrances, where the temperature is cooler.

According to Hall, laboratory studies have shown that the white-nose fungus grows best between 41-50 degrees. These temperatures are found deep in caves where little brown bats hang out. The fungus does not grow as well below 41 degrees.

Recently, Hall said, the state removed part of an old concrete wall that blocked air flow into the Hibernia Mine. This may drop temperatures slightly, inhibiting the growth of white-nose fungus in places where little brown bats hibernate.

Big brown bats also have different feeding habits. Hall said researchers from Fordham University found that the wings of big browns have a buildup of fatty acids, most likely from the type of insects they eat. These acids appear to prevent the fungus from growing and damaging fragile wing membranes. “It could just be a fluke of nature, these small differences in diet,” Hall noted.

Genetics may also help bats survive white-nose syndrome, according to a study by Rutgers University researchers, who are working in cooperation with the Endangered and Nongame Species Program. The one percent of little brown bats that survive white-nose syndrome seems to be passing immunity on to their offspring.

This winter, biologists will carefully monitor bat caves in New Jersey and look for signs of improvement for little brown bats and other species affected by white-nose syndrome: northern long-eared bats, tri-colored bats and eastern small-footed bats. All four have been recommended for inclusion on the state’s endangered species list.

“There’s been a pretty helpless feeling in the last 8-10 years,” Hall said. “But if there’s any silver lining, it’s that people are appreciating bats a lot more.”

Bats are our only flying mammals, and they’re hugely beneficial. Bats are the single largest consumer of night-flying insects – including mosquitos, beetles and moths - and the value of this natural insect control to agriculture in the U.S. is estimated at $22.9 billion dollars per year.

Want to help bats in your neighborhood? Install a bat house for summer maternity colonies. Leave some dead or dying trees standing so bats can roost behind the loose bark.

If you discover bats in your attic or home, don’t try to remove them on your own.  Call a bat removal expert, who will safely “exclude” them. The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ and Rutgers provide free bat houses to those who evict bats safely.

For more information on New Jersey’s bats, go to the Rutgers website at http://wildlife.rutgers.edu/bats/ or the Conserve Wildlife Foundation website at http://www.conservewildlifenj.org/protecting/projects/bat/white-nose/.  Another great resource is Bat Conservation International at www.batcon.org.

And to learn about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at info@njconservation.org.

POSTS

Without its 'understory' layer, the forest will collapse

From whale songs to poetry, a remarkable journey

A cleaner, greener New Jersey

Let's keep New Jersey the Garden State, not the Pipeline State

New Jersey's winter hikes

'Trees don't vote' but Byrne saved Pine Barrens anyway

Governor-elect Murphy should set new course on the environment

Protect soils to keep the garden in our state

Clean, plentiful water is New Jersey's lifeblood

A breath of fresh air for New Jersey?

Keep Liberty State Park free and open

A green agenda for Governor-elect Murphy

Life, liberty ... and a clean environment

New Jersey's aging water infrastructure

The land before time: NJ's Kittatinny Ridge & Valley

While bats hibernate, scientists hope for survival

Natural Resource Damages fund new parks and preserves

Save menhaden, a humble but mighty fish

Ballot question approval would lock in environmental funds

Sandy Millspaugh: Conservation Trailblazer

Extreme hurricanes highlight concerns about climate change

'Head start' for corn snakes

Protecting the Highlands - it's the water

When you could walk from New Jersey to Morocco

A bold plan for the planet

New Jersey's energy future at a crossroads

Tiny insect will have a huge impact on New Jersey

Protect New Jersey's Pine Barrens

Enjoy New Jersey's forests!

Maine-to-Florida urban trail celebrates 25 years

Rare plants and animals need help!

Ban offshore drilling and seismic testing off NJ coast!

Summertime and the digging is easy

Is the elusive bobcat here to stay?

NJ water supply plan rings alarm bells

NJ's Piedmont: Formed by volcanoes and erosion

Defend public health and safety in state budget

'Magical' early 17-year cicadas

June and open space: Perfect together

Hit the trails on June 3, National Trails Day

Socializing with nature

Preserve land - and state's in lieu of taxes program

New Jersey's 'marl' pits yield dinosaur discoveries

Vernal pools: Now you see 'em, now you don't

State targets illegal dumpers in parks and forests

Former governors and elected leaders stand up for environment

Join CSAs to support local farms, save money, eat better

Weather extremes may be New Jersey's new normal

Bald eagles and ospreys rebound in New Jersey

Pine Barrens prescribed fires: A renewal force

ARCHIVE

February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011

CLICK FOR RECENT POSTS


     videos     
     coupon     
WITH THIS COUPON
FREE 1/2 pound of Asher's chocolate when you visit our store!
Whitman Pharmacy
4950 York Road
Buckingham, PA 18912
215-794-8850
http://www.whitmanpharmacy.com
Coupons may not be combined.
Not valid with other offers or prior purchases.
Expires: 12/18/99
Printed online at HunterdonCountyAlive.com.

-Print Coupon

©2017 BucksCountyAlive.com. All rights reserved.
Redistribution of coupons in printed or electronic form is prohibited.

     video