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Screening and biosecurity for White-nose Fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Ascomycota: Pseudeurotiaceae) in Hawai‘i

July 1, 2019

Introduced pathogens causing emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are serious contemporary threats to animal, plant, and ecosystem health. The invasive fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has established populations of European origin in North America, resulting in mass mortality of several hibernating bat species. Extensive monitoring for this pathogen exists in Europe and North America, but limited screening is taking place elsewhere. We report results from cave surveys on Hawai‘i Island. Substrates in 10 lava-tube caves with elevations up to 3,045 m were swabbed providing samples for screening P. destructans. Interior cave air temperatures spanned temperatures suitable for the growth and survival of P. destructans. Using quantitative PCR, all 85 samples tested were negative for the presence of P. destructans. The biology of the Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) in relation to its unusual use of high elevation caves is discussed because these bats could come into contact with P. destructans should it arrive in Hawai‘i. Large numbers of cave enthusiasts visit Hawaiian caves from across the world after having been inside caves elsewhere including areas with P. destructans. Thus, resource managers in Hawai‘i and other remote areas may want to consider the potential for P. destructans to arrive unintentionally via human activities. Biosecurity measures and periodic screening for P. destructans are especially important in Hawai‘i given the presence of high elevation caves with suitable temperatures for its growth. If P. destructans was introduced to Hawaiian caves, it could affect the local fauna but also act as a source population for colonisations elsewhere.

Publication Year 2019
Title Screening and biosecurity for White-nose Fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Ascomycota: Pseudeurotiaceae) in Hawai‘i
DOI 10.2984/73.3.4
Authors Violeta Zhelyazkova, Nia Toshkova, Serena E Dool, Frank Bonaccorso, Corinna A. Pinzari, Kristina Montoya-Aiona, Sebastien J Puechmaille
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Pacific Science
Index ID 70207617
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center