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Long-term Pseudogymnoascus destructans surveillance data reveal factors contributing to pathogen presence

November 25, 2021

The disease white-nose syndrome (WNS) was first recognized in upstate New York in 2006 and has since spread across much of the United States (U.S.), causing severe mortality in several North American bat species. To aid in the identification and monitoring of at-risk bat populations, we evaluate factors associated with the presence of the causative fungal agent of WNS, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), in the continental United States. We obtained Pd samples through hibernaculum surveys conducted from 2013 to 2020, with all samples analyzed at the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center. Using generalized additive models, we estimated the likelihood of Pd presence under three different hypotheses: human-mediated, species-mediated, and hibernaculum type. In addition to hypothesis-related predictor variables, a subset of models included a smoothed nonseparable effect of longitude and latitude and a smoothed effect of time since study onset to account for spatial and temporal autocorrelation. Under all hypotheses, models indicated probability of Pd detection is best described by the smoothed nonseparable effect of longitude and latitude and a smoothed effect of time since onset of this study. After accounting for spatial and temporal autocorrelations, only hibernaculum type significantly affected Pd presence, with mines and culverts/tunnels less likely to contain Pd compared with caves. Reduced likelihood of Pd presence in mines and culverts/tunnels bodes well for bats of the western and southern United States, where use of these hibernaculum types is more common. While our findings can help guide monitoring and management efforts, the potential for long-distance dispersal combined with variation in community composition and hibernation ecology between the western and eastern United States necessitates the continued monitoring of Pd presence.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Long-term Pseudogymnoascus destructans surveillance data reveal factors contributing to pathogen presence
DOI 10.1002/ecs2.3808
Authors John Grider, Robin E. Russell, Anne Ballmann, Trevor J. Hefley
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecosphere
Index ID 70226743
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center

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