In October, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced six grant awards totaling approximately $1.6 million to investigate the cause of white-nose syndrome in bats and to identify ways of managing the deadly fungus.
White-nose syndrome is associated with Geomyces destructans, a newly discovered fungus that has killed more than a million bats in eastern North America and has spread rapidly across the United States and into Canada since its discovery in 2007.
"Bats are essential components of our nation's ecosystem," said Acting USFWS Director Rowan Gould. "These grants provide critical funding to help the service and our partners understand white-nose syndrome and address this unprecedented wildlife crisis."
The agency is leading a cooperative effort with federal and state agencies, researchers, universities, and other nongovernmental organizations to research and manage the spread of WNS.
Grants were provided through the Preventing Extinction program and a congressional appropriation for WNS work. Among the 2010 grant recipients is a research team associated with the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, including Dr. Alison Robbins.
Funded projects include detailed studies of G destructans, improving WNS detection techniques, developing a better understanding of how WNS is transmitted, determining the mechanics of G destructans infections in bats, and discovering how persistent the fungus is in the environment.
The G destructans fungus has been detected from Canada south to Tennessee and as far west as Oklahoma, and it is expected to continue to spread. Four endangered species and subspecies of bats in the United States are already affected by, or are at risk from, the WNS fungus.