White-nose syndrome is an emerging disease in North America that has caused substantial declines in hibernating bats. A recently identifi ed fungus (Geomyces destructans) causes skin lesions that are characteristic of this disease. Typical signs of this infection were not observed in bats in North America before white-nose syndrome was detected. However, unconfirmed reports from Europe indicated white fungal growth on hibernating bats without associated deaths. To investigate these differences, hibernating bats were sampled in Germany, Switzerland, and Hungary to determine whether G. destructans is present in Europe. Microscopic observations, fungal culture, and genetic analyses of 43 samples from 23 bats indicated that 21 bats of 5 species in 3 countries were colonized by G. destructans. We hypothesize that G. destructans is present throughout Europe and that bats in Europe may be more immunologically or behaviorally resistant to G. destructans than their congeners in North America because they potentially coevolved with the fungus.
Ecological forecasting: A strategic partnership to predict and manage biological invasions
Stohlgren, T., J. Schnase, J. Smith, and J. Wilson
During the past century, thousands of non-native plants, animals, and pathogens have been introduced into all ecosystems in the United States. A growing number of these species have become "invasive," spreading at such a rapid rate that they have contributed to declines in native species and changes in ecosystem function. Invasive species incur substantial ecological, economic, and human health costs. In the U.S., this translates to an estimated $137 billion per year2, more than all other natural disasters combined. Increased human travel and trade, coupled with the changing types and patterns of environmental disturbance such as climate change and wildfire, are expected to exacerbate these impacts. Land and resource managers face the enormous challenge of identifying and locating invasive species in and around their jurisdictions, controlling what is already present, and preventing further proliferation or new invasions. The need has never been greater for an ecological forecasting capability that will address these urgent management needs and forestall what is in danger of becoming a disastrous trend.
The role of spatial autocorrelation in native-exotic plant species richness relationships