White-Nose Syndrome

Since the winter of 2006-07, millions of North American bats have died from white-nose syndrome (WNS). As of September 2015, bats with WNS were confirmed in 26 states and five Canadian provinces.

White-nose syndrome gets its name from the white fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which infects the skin on the muzzle, ears, and wings of hibernating bats and was discovered by USGS scientists.

USGS scientists have developed novel tools and techniques for national WNS detection, surveillance (UV light) and research efforts.  Our scientists are monitoring bat populations (NABat) and hibernating bat behavior in addition to assessing the impact of WNS on bat populations.  USGS is now focusing on disease management strategies to reverse bat declines from WNS (oral vaccine, modification of bat hibernation sites, investigations of the bat skin microbiome).

Can a vaccine save the bats?

USGS scientists are working on a vaccine that could be applied to bats. Read more about this, and other novel techniques for saving bats, in this article from National Geographic.

Read the article

New Publication: U.S. Geological Survey Response to White-Nose Syndrome in Bats

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) science has been critical in identifying the causal fungus, characterizing the effects of WNS, and tracking the fungus as it rapidly spreads through many populations of bats in North America. Early USGS research enhanced our understanding of how WNS affects individual bats and how the fungus persists in the environment. Today, USGS scientists are engaged in a nationwide response to WNS, in close coordination with our partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Park Service (NPS), and U.S. Forest Service (USFS)...

U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2018–3020

Cooperative Research

White-Nose Syndrome Threatens the Survival of Hibernating Bats in North America — Fort Collins Science Center

White-Nose Syndrome — National Wildlife Health Center

High elevation cave surveys for bats and white nose syndrome — Pacific Islands Ecosystems Research Center

North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat) — Fort Collins Science Center

Infection by White-nose Syndrome is likely to Extirpate the Endangered Indiana Bat over major portions of its current range — Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Population Demographic Models for the Conservation of Endangered Indiana Bats at Risk to White-Nose Syndrome — Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Feeding Ecology of Insect-eating Bats — Fort Collins Science Center

WNS Data Management Coordination — Fort Collins Science Center

Bat Population Data Project — Fort Collins Science Center

Ecological Investigations of White-Nose Syndrome in Bats — Fort Collins Science Center

Surveillance for the Presence of White-Nose Syndrome in the Bat Community at El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico — Fort Collins Science Center

Bat Banding Clearinghouse — Fort Collins Science Center


Beyond Billions: Threatened Bats are Worth Billions to Agriculture

Bat populations are declining due to fatalities associated with White-Nose Syndrome and wind turbines, which could lead to significant economic losses on U.S. farms. Paul Cryan, USGS scientist and an author of the report, discusses these findings.

Bats with White Nose Syndrome: An Interview with David Blehert

Blehert is the branch chief of the Wildlife Disease Diagnostic Laboratories, where he and his colleagues investigate the causes of death in wildlife brought to their facilities from across the United States. Their goal is to diagnose and minimize the impact of disease on wildlife.


White-nose syndrome disease tracking system

This tracking system allows state and federal land managers to efficiently interact with each other and the public to better understand the distribution and spread of WNS, as well as the fungus that causes the disease.

  • Publications

  • Effects of wind energy generation and white-nose syndrome on the viability of the Indiana bat

    Wind energy generation holds the potential to adversely affect wildlife populations. Species-wide effects are difficult to study and few, if any, studies examine effects of wind energy generation on any species across its entire range. One species that may be affected by wind energy generation is the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), which is found in the eastern and midwestern United States. In addition to mortality from wind energy generation, the species also faces range-wide threats from the emerging infectious fungal disease, white-nose syndrome (WNS).

    PeerJ 4:e2830

  • White-nose syndrome in North American bats - U.S. Geological Survey updates

    White-nose syndrome is a devastating wildlife disease that has killed millions of hibernating bats. This disease first appeared in New York during 2007 and has continued to spread at an alarming rate from the northeastern to the central United States and throughout eastern Canada. The disease is named for the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which often appears white when it infects the skin of the nose, ears, and wings of hibernating bats. This fact sheet provides updates on white-nose syndrome research and management efforts and highlights US Geological Survey scientists’ contributions to understanding and combating this disease.

    U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016-3084

  • A plan for the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat)

    The purpose of the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat) is to create a continent-wide program to monitor bats at local to rangewide scales that will provide reliable data to promote effective conservation decision making and the long-term viability of bat populations across the continent. This is an international, multiagency program. Four approaches will be used to gather monitoring data to assess changes in bat distributions and abundances: winter hibernaculum counts, maternity colony counts, mobile acoustic surveys along road transects, and acoustic surveys at stationary points.

    Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-208. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station, 2015

  • Direct detection of fungal siderophores on bats with white-nose syndrome via fluorescence microscopy-guided ambient ionization mass spectrometry

    White-nose syndrome (WNS) caused by the pathogenic fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans is decimating the populations of several hibernating North American bat species. Little is known about the molecular interplay between pathogen and host in this disease. Fluorescence microscopy ambient ionization mass spectrometry was used to generate metabolic profiles from the wings of both healthy and diseased bats of the genus Myotis

    PLoS ONE, v. 10, no. 3, March 2015

  • White-nose syndrome initiates a cascade of physiologic disturbances in the hibernating bat host

    The physiological effects of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in hibernating bats and ultimate causes of mortality from infection with Pseudogymnoascus (formerly Geomycesdestructans are not fully understood. Increased frequency of arousal from torpor described among hibernating bats with late-stage WNS is thought to accelerate depletion of fat reserves, but the physiological mechanisms that lead to these alterations in hibernation behavior have not been elucidated. We used the doubly labeled water (DLW) method and clinical chemistry to evaluate energy use, body composition changes, and blood chemistry perturbations in hibernating little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) experimentally infected with P. destructans to better understand the physiological processes that underlie mortality from WNS.

    BMC Physiology, v. 14, no. 10, December 2014