Presented November 05, 2020- Presentation Slides



Assessing White-Nose Syndrome and Non-Stationary Changes on Bat Populations on and Near DoD Installations in the West” by Dr. Sarah Olson (SERDP Project Webpage)

A fungal disease called white-nose syndrome (WNS), originally identified in 2006 in New York state, has killed millions of hibernating bats in North America. In advance of its spread across western North America, this research effort involved the collection of empirical data on bat hibernation physiology to better inform our understanding of western bat WNS risk factors and priorities for possible mitigations. As part of this work, we hypothesized that the differential mortality due to WNS observed among hibernating species was related to species-level bioenergetic traits and environmental factors. Our hypothesis was tested using empirical data and bioenergetic models. In advance of WNS arrival, our team collected basic morphometric trait data on 3,073 bats representing 14 species across 14 sites in Alberta, British Columbia, Colorado, Montana, Northwest Territories, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Utah. Respirometry and body composition data were collected for a subset of 580 and 464 bats, respectively, for analysis of 12 species. Microclimate measurements were also collected within hibernacula. The data collected as part of this effort are the first to establish valuable pre-WNS reference points for the hibernation physiology of these western bat species. The data, analyses and modeling tools presented in this webinar will help inform DoD and other land managers who are responsible for bat management and mitigation activities by identifying specific WNS risk factors as well as susceptible and more resilient western species and populations.


Speaker Biography
Dr. Sarah Olson

Dr. Sarah Olson is the Associate Director of Epidemiology for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Health Program. Although the program is based out of the Bronx Zoo in New York, Dr. Olsen is physically based out of Bozeman, Montana. Her ongoing research efforts focus on assessing the risk of white-nose disease syndrome to North American hibernating bats, tracking human health threats associated with wildlife trade in Asia, establishing national wildlife health surveillance platforms, and researching the disease ecology of filoviruses in Central African fruit-bats. In addition to leading scientific studies, Dr. Olson provides research support to field veterinarians and conservation staff around the world on wildlife health threats and zoonotic diseases with a focus on promoting the understanding of conservation impact of front-line wildlife diseases, building One Health capacity, and translating science into effective and lasting interventions. She received bachelor’s degrees in microbiology and German from Montana State University, and a joint doctoral degree in population health and environment from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.