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Brown bats gone in 16 years?

Aug 06, 2010 11:33 pm
It is the apocalypse in the Catskills this week: in a few years seven percent of the New York forest will be gone, as a little bug is wiping out the ash tree population. Now Lissa Harris in Watershed Post links to a journal story about how the brown bat is being wiped out:
A paper published in the prestigious research journal Science on August 6 makes a dire prediction: The little brown bat, the Northeast's most common bat and an important species in the ecology of the region, could become extinct in the region within 16 years ((The executioner, in case you haven't been reading the news lately, is white-nose syndrome, a fungus that attacks hibernating bats over the winter and causes them to emerge from hibernation early, causing massive fatalities in caves that once were teeming with bats.) From Science News:
In the team's worst-case scenario, which assumes that 45% of the little brown bat population continues to die each winter, there is a 99% probability of regional extinction within 16 years. "That hit us like a brick," Kunz says. (The little brown bat lives throughout North America, so the species itself won't go extinct). If mortality declines to 10%, some little brown bats would last for 80 years, but the population would be dramatically smaller. Because brown bats eat a large amount of insects, including pests, a decline in their number could threaten farm fields and forests. Read the entire story in Watershed Post.
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