Helping Bats Hold On

Scientists seek a savior as a deadly fungal pandemic explodes through vulnerable colonies

By Janet Raloff, 10:56 AM August 25, 2011

When Donald McAlpine and his colleagues broke through a snow barricade at the entrance to a cave in New Brunswick this March, bat carcasses covered the floor. The biologists had been conducting winter surveys throughout the Canadian province for two years, monitoring the health of hibernating bats. As of early winter, all appeared healthy. But now hosts of corpses lay shrouded in a pale fungus.

Dreaded white-nose syndrome — a virulent fungal infection — had clearly arrived.

McAlpine’s team...

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