Missouri Survey Finds Deep Drop in Once-Common Bat Species

The population of the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), a species once common in Missouri caves, dropped from 2,684 in 2015 to only seven last winter, which could lead to a "domino effect" on the food chain and cave ecosystems, conservation officials said. The Missouri Department of Conservation surveyed more than 300 caves and mines in the winter and found the alarming results when compared with surveys of 375 caves and mines in 2015, The Columbia Missourian reported (http://bit.ly/2p7bypK ). Shauna Marquardt, a biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Columbia, said the bats' disappearance from numerous caves where they were seen in the past was caused by white-nose syndrome, which has decimated bat populations across the U.S. The northern long-eared bat is especially vulnerable to the disease and has been the hardest-hit species in North America, she said. Searchers found few bats or found bats that were emaciated and had visible fungus caused by the disease, she said.

Source: US News, April 15, 2017