Paul Cryan, Ph.D.
Mysteries, underdogs, and gadgets have always fascinated me, so for the past two decades I have focused my research on using technology to reveal how some of the 43+ species of U.S. bats live their cryptic lives. My particular interests include uncovering bat migration behaviors and seasonal movements, discovering the details of their winter hideouts and survival strategies, and understanding how infectious diseases influence bat populations. What began as general interest in an understudied group of mammals has grown into a practical search for answers to two of the most pressing threats currently facing U.S. bats - fatalities at wind turbines and the emerging disease known as white-nose syndrome. My basic research approach is to start by synthesizing natural history and existing information, then test plausible new hypotheses in a scientifically defensible way through observational and experimental field studies. I gravitate toward new collaborations and technologies that take us beyond existing methods and expand our abilities to follow and discover what (and how) bats are doing out there in the dark.
- Ph.D. Biology, University of New Mexico, 2003
- M.S. Biology, University of New Mexico, 1997
- B.A. Biology, The Evergreen State College, 1991
- 2003 to present, Research Biologist, USGS Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, CO
- 1999 to 2003, Student Trainee (SCEP), USGS Arid Lands Field Station (Fort Collins Science Center), Albuquerque, NM
- 1994 to 1997 & 1999 to 2002, Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
- 1998 to 1999, Wildlife Biologist, USGS Arid Lands Field Station (Fort Collins Science Center), Albuquerque, NM
- 1995 to 1997, Biological Science Technician, USGS Arid Lands Field Station (Fort Collins Science Center), Albuquerque, NM
Science and Products
White-nose syndrome in bats: Illuminating the darkness
Happy ten-year anniversary to BMC Biology! We can attest to the effectiveness of the journal in reaching a great diversity of scientists based on reader responses to our commentary  about bat white-nose syndrome (WNS) two years ago. WNS is still on course to rank among the most destructive wildlife diseases to emerge in recent history, and it...Cryan, Paul M.; Meteyer, Carol U.; Boyles, Justin G.; Blehert, David S.
A comparison of bats and rodents as reservoirs of zoonotic viruses: are bats special?
Bats are the natural reservoirs of a number of high-impact viral zoonoses. We present a quantitative analysis to address the hypothesis that bats are unique in their propensity to host zoonotic viruses based on a comparison with rodents, another important host order. We found that bats indeed host more zoonotic viruses per species than rodents,...Luis, Angela D.; Hayman, David T.S.; O'Shea, Thomas J.; Cryan, Paul M.; Gilbert, Amy T.; Pulliam, Juliet R.C.; Mills, James N.; Timonin, Mary E.; Willis, Craig K.R.; Cunningham, Andrew A.; Fooks, Anthony R.; Rupprecht, Charles E.; Wood, James L.N.; Webb, Colleen T.
Insect prey eaten by Hoary Bats (Lasiurus cinereus) prior to fatal collisions with wind turbines
Wind turbines are being deployed all across the world to meet the growing demand for energy, and in many areas, these turbines are causing the deaths of insectivorous migratory bats. One of the hypothesized causes of bat susceptibility is that bats are attracted to insects on or near the turbines. We examined insect remains in the stomachs and...Valdez, Ernest W.; Cryan, Paul M.
On estimating the economic value of insectivorous bats: Prospects and priorities for biologists
Bats are among the most economically important nondomesticated mammals in the world. They are well-known pollinators and seed dispersers, but crop pest suppression is probably the most valuable ecosystem service provided by bats. Scientific literature and popular media often include reports of crop pests in the diet of bats and anecdotal or...Boyles, Justin G.; Sole, Catherine L.; Cryan, Paul M.; McCracken, Gary F.
Ecology of zoonotic infectious diseases in bats: current knowledge and future directions
Bats are hosts to a range of zoonotic and potentially zoonotic pathogens. Human activities that increase exposure to bats will likely increase the opportunity for infections to spill over in the future. Ecological drivers of pathogen spillover and emergence in novel hosts, including humans, involve a complex mixture of processes, and understanding...Hayman, D.T.; Bowen, R.A.; Cryan, P.M.; McCracken, G.F.; O'Shea, T.J.; Peel, A.J.; Gilbert, A.; Webb, C.T.; Wood, J.L.
Evidence of cryptic individual specialization in an opportunistic insectivorous bat
Habitat use and feeding behaviors of cryptic animals are often poorly understood. Analyses of stable isotope ratios in animal body tissues can help reveal an individual's location and resource use during tissue growth. We investigated variation in stable isotope ratios of 4 elements (H, C, N, and S) in the hair of a sedentary species of...Cryan, Paul M.; Stricker, Craig A.; Wunder, Michael B.
Evidence of late-summer mating readiness and early sexual maturation in migratory tree-roosting bats found dead at wind turbines
Understanding animal mating systems is an important component of their conservation, yet the precise mating times for many species of bats are unknown. The aim of this study was to better understand the details and timing of reproductive events in species of bats that die most frequently at wind turbines in North America, because such information...Cryan, P.M.; Jameson, J.W.; Baerwald, E.F.; Willis, C.K.R.; Barclay, R.M.R.; Snider, E.A.; Crichton, E.G.
Inoculation of bats with European Geomyces destructans supports the novel pathogen hypothesis for the origin of white-nose syndrome
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an emerging disease of hibernating bats associated with cutaneous infection by the fungus Geomyces destructans (Gd), and responsible for devastating declines of bat populations in eastern North America. Affected bats appear emaciated and one hypothesis is that they spend too much time out of torpor during hibernation,...Warnecke, Lisa; Turner, James M.; Bollinger, Trent K.; Lorch, Jeffrey M.; Misra, Vikram; Cryan, Paul M.; Wibbelt, Gudrun; Blehert, David S.; Willis, Craig K.R.
Environmental conditions associated with bat white-nose syndrome in the north-eastern United States
1. White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an emerging disease of hibernating North American bats that is caused by the cold-growing fungus Geomyces destructans. Since first observed in the winter of 2007, WNS has led to unprecedented mortality in several species of bats and may threaten more than 15 additional hibernating bat species if it continues across...Flory, Abigail R.; Kumar, Sunil; Stohlgren, Thomas J.; Cryan, Paul M.
Forest Succession and Maternity Day roost selection by Myotis septentrionalis in a mesophytic hardwood forest
Conservation of summer maternity roosts is considered critical for bat management in North America, yet many aspects of the physical and environmental factors that drive roost selection are poorly understood. We tracked 58 female northern bats (Myotis septentrionalis) to 105 roost trees of 21 species on the Fort Knox military reservation in north-...Silvis, Alexander; Ford, W. Mark; Eric R. Britzke; Nathan R. Beane; Joshua B. Johnson
Wind Turbines as Landscape Impediments to the Migratory Connectivity of Bats
Unprecedented numbers of migratory bats are found dead beneath industrial-scale wind turbines during late summer and autumn in both North America and Europe. Prior to the wide-scale deployment of wind turbines, fatal collisions of migratory bats with anthropogenic structures were rarely reported and likely occurred very infrequently. There are no...Cryan, Paul M.
Investigating and managing the rapid emergence of white-nose syndrome, a novel, fatal, infectious disease of hibernating bats
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fatal disease of bats that hibernate. The etiologic agent of WNS is the fungus Geomyces destructans, which infects the skin and wing membranes. Over 1 million bats in six species in eastern North America have died from WNS since 2006, and as a result several species of bats may become endangered or extinct....Foley, Janet; Clifford, Deana; Castle, Kevin; Cryan, Paul M.; Ostfeld, Richard S.