60-Second Science

Bat Die-Offs Affect Human Health and Economics

Biologist Jeffrey Foster at the ScienceWriters2011 conference in Flagstaff on October 16 discussed the implications to humans of the bat die-off resulting from the fungal disease called white-nose syndrome. Steve Mirsky reports

“With the loss of these one, two, maybe 10 million bat individuals in these populations, what are the implications?”

Bats in the U.S. are being plagued by a fungal condition called white-nose syndrome. Northern Arizona University biologist Jeffrey Foster talked at the ScienceWriters2011 conference in Flagstaff on October 16th about what the loss of large numbers of bats would mean.

“And certainly, implications for ecosystem for ecosystem function, particularly for forest health, since these bats feed primarily on insects, and the insects are a major part of these forests. Human health implications, particularly with the vectors of particular diseases that we have out there. And then finally, economic implications for agriculture…so there’s a recent estimate by Boyles et al. of the economic impact of bats at nearly $23 billion. Clearly bats are very, very important to agriculture in the United States.”

—Steve Mirsky

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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