Habitat heterogeneity and disease susceptibility
Updated: Sep 3, 2019
Persistence of northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis) on islands: evidence of behaviorally-mediated disease resistance?
White-nose syndrome (WNS) in northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis, MYSE) can cause severe mortality and local extirpation within a few years of initial exposure. Yet, coastal MYSE populations appear to be persisting despite WNS infections. Work with collaborators Dr. Wendy Turner and Ph.D. student Samantha Hoff at the University at Albany will examine the role of population genomics in determining regional resistance across Long Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. We are using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology to identify targets for adaptation, assess population structure in the region, and determine genomic indices related to genetic diversity, effective population size and reproductive capacity. This work will not only illuminate the role adaptive divergence and habitat heterogeneity may be playing in shaping disease resistance, but will also shed light on the population dynamics of this poorly understood species. Determining the ecology and behavior of MYSE is critical for long-term management of remnant populations by identifying whether these populations will continue to persist with the disease, and what we need to do to promote their survival. By learning how these individuals are adapted to exurban and suburban coastal habitats, we can improve our management actions to support these, and other populations, into the future.
Funding & Acknowledgments This work is supported by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Wildlife Management Institute, and would not be possible without the help and support of Meghan Stark at the University of New Hampshire.