Project Update 3/2015
We continue to monitor and photograph hibernating bats under UV in New Jersey. Our overall numbers have declined and we suspect cold, wet springs. All the hibernating bats have Pd in varying amounts - some visible to the unaided eye and some only visible with UV light.
A paper was jointly published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases documenting the use of UV light to identify Pd by the color of the fluorescence - enabling field documentation and reducing the need to euthanize bats for histopathology. Punch samples can now be used to make a diagnosis.... We now have a substantiated research tool that allows field researchers to determine if a bat has Pd by observation - all from our pioneering work with UV light.
To connect natural fluorescence with a bats age (age a bat by fluorescence) we need to band a known juvenile and then find that banded bat during the early hibernation period. Due to low numbers/low reproductive rates, we have not yet made that connection. This past hibernation period was one of the most extreme we have ever seen in New Jersey. Cold air flowed deeper into the mine tunnel than during any prior winter recorded. That influx of air created unusual colony movement and a significant disruption in movement patterns noted from prior years. The implications of this are as yet unknown but these factors have required we restrict our investigation somewhat - that extent is still under discussion.