A Deadly Double Punch: Together, Turbines and Disease Jeopardize Endangered Bats

January 17, 2017
Contact: Marisa Lubeck 303-526-6694, mlubeck@usgs.gov
Richard Erickson 608-781-6353, rerickson@usgs.gov
Randy Hines 608-783-6451 x398, rkhines@usgs.gov

Wind turbine collisions and the deadly bat disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS) can together intensify the decline of endangered Indiana bat populations in the midwestern United States, according to a recently published U.S. Geological Survey study.

“Bats are valuable because, by eating insects, they save U.S. agriculture billions of dollars per year in pest control,” said USGS scientist Richard Erickson, the lead author of the study. “Our research is important for understanding the threats to endangered Indiana bats and can help inform conservation efforts.”

Wind energy generation can cause bat mortality when certain species, including the midwestern Indiana bat, approach turbines during migration. Meanwhile, WNS, which is caused by the Pseudogymnoascus destructans fungus, has killed millions of hibernating bats in North America and is spreading. The new study found that the combination of these two hazards has a larger negative impact on Indiana bats than either threat alone.

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