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 (WNS) is a devastating disease that threatens the survival of hibernating bats in North America. Since first documented in the winter of 2005/2006, WNS has spread from a very small area of New York across at least two thousand kilometers and half or more of states and provinces in the U.S. and Canada.
White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a devastating disease that threatens the survival of hibernating bats in North America. Since first documented in the winter of 2005/2006, WNS has spread from a very small area of New York across at least two thousand kilometers in half or more of states and provinces in the U.S. and Canada. Over five million bats are estimated to have died during the past decade from WNS, and all four federally listed endangered species and subspecies of hibernating cave bats are in harm’s way.
During the winter of 2006–2007, an affliction of unknown origin dubbed “white-nose syndrome” (WNS) began devastating colonies of hibernating bats in a small area around Albany, New York. Colonies of hibernating bats were reduced 80–97 percent at the affected caves and mines that were surveyed. Since then, white-nose syndrome or its causative agent have consistently spread more than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 mi) away from the original site, and have infected bats in at least half or more of states and provinces in the U.S. and Canada. Most species of bats that hibernate in eastern North America are now known to be affected; little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus), northern long-eared bats (M. septentrionalis), and federally listed (endangered) Indiana bats (M. sodalis) have been hit particularly hard.
Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world and represents an important step toward reducing dependence on nonrenewable sources of power. However, widespread deployment of industrial wind turbines is having unprecedented adverse effects on certain species of bats that roost in trees and migrate. Bats are beneficial consumers of agricultural insect pests and migratory species of bats provide free pest-suppression services across ecosystems and international borders.
A large number of bat species are considered “species of concern” in the United States and its Territories, and resource managers are increasingly interested in learning more about their distribution, status, and potential management.
First direct evidence of long-distance seasonal movements and hibernation in a migratory bat
Understanding of migration in small bats has been constrained by limitations of techniques that were labor-intensive, provided coarse levels of resolution, or were limited to population-level inferences. Knowledge of movements and behaviors of individual bats have been unknowable because of limitations in size of tracking devices and methods to...Weller, Theodore J.; Castle, Kevin T.; Liechti, Felix; Hein, Cris D.; Schirmacher, Michael R.; Cryan, Paul M.
Evaluating the effectiveness of wildlife detection and observation technologies at a solar power tower facility
Solar power towers produce electrical energy from sunlight at an industrial scale. Little is known about the effects of this technology on flying animals and few methods exist for automatically detecting or observing wildlife at solar towers and other tall anthropogenic structures. Smoking objects are sometimes observed co-occurring with reflected...Diehl, Robert H.; Valdez, Ernest W.; Preston, Todd M.; Wellik, Mike J.; Cryan, Paul
Environment, host, and fungal traits predict continental-scale white-nose syndrome in bats
White-nose syndrome is a fungal disease killing bats in eastern North America, but disease is not seen in European bats and is less severe in some North American species. We show that how bats use energy during hibernation and fungal growth rates under different environmental conditions can explain how some bats are able to survive winter with...Hayman, David T.S.; Pulliam, Juliet R.C.; Marshall, Jonathan C.; Cryan, Paul M.; Webb, Colleen T.
Multiple mortality events in bats: a global review
Despite conservation concerns for many species of bats, factors causing mortality in bats have not been reviewed since 1970. Here, we review and qualitatively describe trends in the occurrence and apparent causes of multiple mortality events (MMEs) in bats around the world. We compiled a database of MMEs, defined as cases in which ≥...O'Shea, Thomas J.; Cryan, Paul; Hayman, David TH; Plowright, Raina K.; Streicker, Daniel G.
Book review: Bats: A world of science and mystery.
This book has something for everyone, from casual seekers of fascinating eye candy to professional scientists interested in the latest discoveries. Without losing sight of how mysterious bats remain despite decades of research, the authors deftly introduce readers to bats and the people who study them. The book is nice to look at, easy to...Cryan, Paul
Ultraviolet vision may be widespread in bats
Insectivorous bats are well known for their abilities to find and pursue flying insect prey at close range using echolocation, but they also rely heavily on vision. For example, at night bats use vision to orient across landscapes, avoid large obstacles, and locate roosts. Although lacking sharp visual acuity, the eyes of bats evolved to function...Gorresen, P. Marcos; Cryan, Paul; Dalton, David C.; Wolf, Sandy; Bonaccorso, Frank
Not to put too fine a point on it - does increasing precision of geographic referencing improve species distribution models for a wide-ranging migratory bat?
Bat specimens held in natural history museum collections can provide insights into the distribution of species. However, there are several important sources of spatial error associated with natural history specimens that may influence the analysis and mapping of bat species distributions. We analyzed the importance of geographic referencing and...Hayes, Mark A.; Ozenberger, Katharine; Cryan, Paul M.; Wunder, Michael B.
Using sutures to attach miniature tracking tags to small bats for multimonth movement and behavioral studies
1. Determining the detailed movements of individual animals often requires them to carry tracking devices, but tracking broad-scale movement of small bats (< 30g) has been limited by transmitter technology and long-term attachment methods. This limitation inhibits our understanding of bat dispersal and migration, particularly in the context of...Castle, Kevin T.; Weller, Theodore J.; Cryan, Paul M.; Hein, Cris D.; Schirmacher, Michael R.
White-nose syndrome initiates a cascade of physiologic disturbances in the hibernating bat host
Background The physiological effects of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in hibernating bats and ultimate causes of mortality from infection with Pseudogymnoascus (formerly Geomyces) destructans are not fully understood. Increased frequency of arousal from torpor described among hibernating bats with late-stage WNS is thought to...Verant, Michelle L.; Meteyer, Carol; Speakman, John R.; Cryan, Paul M.; Lorch, Jeffrey M.; Blehert, David S.
Watching the dark: New surveillance cameras are changing bat research
It is, according to an old proverb, “better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” And those of us trying to discover new insights into the mysterious lives of bats often do a lot of cursing in the darkness. Bats do most things under cover of night, and often in places where humans and most other animals can’t go. This dark inaccessibility...Cryan, Paul M.; Gorresen, P. Marcos
Behavior of bats at wind turbines
Wind turbines are causing unprecedented numbers of bat fatalities. Many fatalities involve tree-roosting bats, but reasons for this higher susceptibility remain unknown. To better understand behaviors associated with risk, we monitored bats at three experimentally manipulated wind turbines in Indiana, United States, from July 29 to October 1, 2012...Cryan, Paul M.; Gorresen, P. Marcos; Hine, Cris D.; Schirmacher, Michael; Diehl, Robert H.; Huso, Manuela M.; Hayman, David T.S.; Fricker, Paul D.; Bonaccorso, Frank J.; Johnson, Douglas H.; Heist, Kevin W.; Dalton, David C.
Bat flight and zoonotic viruses
Bats are sources of high viral diversity and high-profile zoonotic viruses worldwide. Although apparently not pathogenic in their reservoir hosts, some viruses from bats severely affect other mammals, including humans. Examples include severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses, Ebola and Marburg viruses, and Nipah and Hendra viruses. Factors...O'Shea, Thomas J.; Cryan, Paul M.; Cunningham, Andrew A.; Fooks, Anthony R.; Hayman, David T.S.; Luis, Angela D.; Peel, Alison J.; Plowright, Raina K.; Wood, James L.N.
Written by Marisa Lubeck and Ethan Alpern
Video surveillance is the most effective method for detecting animals flying around solar power towers, according to a study of various techniques by the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System facility in southeastern California.