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Research Shows Some Bats Have Developed Resistance To Devastating Fungal Disease

Mike Groll
A radio transmitter is inserted into a little brown bat in an abandoned mine in Rosendale, N.Y. in 2009. Researchers introduced 79 healthy little brown bats to two hibernation sites in Vermont struck hard by white-nose sydrome.

New research from the University of New Hampshire suggests some bat species have developed a resistance to a devastating fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome.

Since the white-nose syndrome was introduced to North America from Europe about 10 years ago, it has killed roughly 90 percent of the little brown bat population in the Northeast.

Now, research shows that decline may be leveling off. Jeffrey Foster, assistant professor of genomics at UNH, participated in the research.

Foster said, “We know that these bats that are still here are getting infected and that’s good in that we know that they’re able to at least persist with the fungus."

Foster says it’s an encouraging sign that the bats won’t go extinct in the region.

Bats play an important role in the ecosystem, eating literally tons of pest-insects each year.

Still Foster says it could be many years before the population recovers.

Before joining NHPR in February of 2015, Jason interned with a variety of public radio organizations including StoryCorps, Transom.org, and WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama. He graduated from Bennington College with a degree in philosophy and sound design.
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