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Project ID: 14-1-05-22

Year: 2014

Date Started: 08/01/2014

Ending Date:  12/31/2017

Title: A long-term evaluation of the interacting effects of fire and white-nose syndrome on endangered bats

Project Proposal Abstract: There is no greater threat to the survival of bats in North America than White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), a wildlife disease associated with a cold-loving fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) that is responsible for catastrophic declines in populations of cave-hibernating bats throughout eastern North America. With mortality approaching 6.7 million bats in the past year, WNS poses an unprecedented threat to multiple endangered bat species. Further, previously common species now face declines attributable to this disease which may lead to shifts in distribution and possible extinction . Our proposal builds on preexisting research funded through the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP #10-1-06-1) at Mammoth Cave National Park (MCNP), where WNS has recently been detected (winter 2012-2013). MCNP supports the largest cave system known globally and possesses hibernacula for populations of several species of bats. These include the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and gray bat (M. grisescens), which average 3,595 and 7,873 individuals hibernating on park each year respectively, as well as the northern long-eared bat (M. septentrionalis). The northern long-eared bat is a species now proposed for endangered status. To date, JFSP #10-1-06-1 has yielded a data set at MCNP that is comprehensive in its coverage of forest vegetation, insect herbivores, and endangered Myotis bats prior to and concurrent with the arrival of WNS in this burned landscape. This study has successfully elucidated the relationships between bats and forest vegetation, with data suggesting varied bat species (including the Indiana bat and other Myotis species) are responsive to forest canopy conditions in ways that are directly relatable to fire management prescriptions (i.e., removal of understory vegetation, or clutter, as well as promotion of canopy gaps). Funding is set to expire in June 2014. Continued funding will allow study for three additional field seasons, commensurate with developing impacts of WNS on bats and fire-managed forest ecosystems of MCNP. The multi-trophic impacts of this disease are unknown. As such, the study design established over the past four years presents a unique location to assess these impacts in the context of fire management. Beyond our work, we know of no other comprehensive, continuous datasets that characterize the population dynamics landscape-level distribution of endangered bat species and their prey prior to the arrival WNS. Given the prescribed fire history at MCNP, there is nowhere else in the world to test the hypotheses described in this proposal. Thus, the benefits to science and management that will be gained by funding this proposal are maximal, as the potential use of prescribed fire as a management tool to counteract the impacts of WNS will have a broad application across eastern North America.

Principal Investigator: Luke E. Dodd

Agency/Organization: Eastern Kentucky University

Branch or Dept:


Other Project Collaborators

Type

Name

Agency/Organization

Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Tiffany Hamblin

Eastern Kentucky University

Sponsored Programs

Budget Contact

Tiffany Hamblin

Eastern Kentucky University

Sponsored Programs

Co-Principal Investigator

Matthew B. Dickinson

Forest Service

NRS-Forest Health-Sustaining Forests

Co-Principal Investigator

Michael J Lacki

University of Kentucky

Department of Forestry

Co-Principal Investigator

Lynne K. Rieske-Kinney

University of Kentucky

Department of Entomology

Co-Principal Investigator

Nicholas S. Skowronski

Forest Service

NRS-Northern Research Station

Co-Principal Investigator

Steven C. Thomas

NPS-National Park Service

Southeast Region

Co-Principal Investigator

Rickard S Toomey

NPS-National Park Service

Mammoth Cave National Park

Funding Cooperator

Deborah K. Davis

University of Kentucky

Research Foundation


Project Locations

Consortium

Appalachian

Oak Woodlands


Level

State

Agency

Unit

STATE

KY

MULTIPLE

NATIONAL

FWS

NATIONAL

NPS

NATIONAL

FS

REGIONAL

Southeast

MULTIPLE


Project Deliverables

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Supporting Documents

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