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Posted Thu Aug 5 2010: from PhysOrg:
Bats facing regional extinction from rapidly spreading disease
A new infectious disease spreading rapidly across the northeastern United States has killed millions of bats and is predicted to cause regional extinction of a once-common bat species, according to the findings of a University of California, Santa Cruz researcher. The disease, white-nose syndrome, first discovered near Albany, N.Y. in 2006, affects hibernating bats and has caused millions to perish, writes lead author Winifred F. Frick, in a study published in the August 6 issue of Science.... "This is one of the worst wildlife crises we've faced," Frick said. "The bat research and conservation communities are trying as hard as possible to find a solution to this devastating problem." Frick notes that "bats perform valuable ecosystem services that matter for both the environments they live in and have tangible benefits to humans as well. Bats affected by this disease are all insect-eating species, and an individual bat can consume their body weight in insects every night, including some consumption of pest insects," Frick said. "The loss of so many bats is basically a terrible experiment in how much these animals matter for insect control," she said.
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