Observed Resiliency of Little Brown Myotis to Long-Term White-Nose Syndrome Exposure


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January 2018


White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a disease that has killed millions of bats in eastern North America and has steadily been spreading across the continent. Little brown myotis Myotis lucifugus populations have experienced extensive declines; however, some localized populations have remained resilient, with bats surviving multiple years past initial WNS exposure. These persistent populations may be critical to species recovery, and understanding mechanisms leading to this long-term survival and persistence may provide insight into overall bat and disease management. We monitored a maternity colony of little brown myotis on Fort Drum Military Installation in northern New York between 2006 and 2017 to determine basic demographic parameters and find evidence of what may be leading to resiliency and persistence at this site. Total colony size declined by approximately 88% from 2008 to 2010 due primarily to impacts of WNS. Counts of all adults returning to the colony stabilized during 2010–2014 (mean = 94, range 84–101) and increased after 2014 (mean = 132, range = 108–166). We captured 727 little brown myotis (575 females, 152 males) and banded 534 individuals (389 females, 145 males) at the colony. The majority of sampled bats showed evidence of recent past WNS infection and exposure to Pseudogymnoascus destructans, and we documented pervasive presence and limited viability of the fungus within the colony's main roosting structure. We recaptured 98 individually marked females in years after initial banding, and some individuals survived at least 6 y. Ninety-one percent of all adult females, 93% of recaptured bats, and 90% of 1-y-old females (i.e., bats recaptured the first year after initial capture as juveniles) showed evidence of reproduction during the monitoring period. Using mark–recapture models, we estimated annual survival rates of juvenile and adult little brown myotis during 2009–2016 and examined whether reproductive condition or evidence of recent infection of WNS had any effect on survival. Annual survival ra


Little Brown Myotis, Myotis Lucifugus, White-Nose Syndrome, Wns, Resiiency, Reproductive Rate, Survival

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Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management, Vol. 9, no. 1 (2018).