Science Diary: Bat Count Thermal
Music; Ambiance: cave, drippings of water
â€œStop right there. I want to get this guy.â€
Weâ€™re in a cave in upstate New York, where scientists are trying to find the cause of a mysterious disease thatâ€™s been decimating the populations of the regionâ€™s hibernating bats. Welcome to Pulse of the Planetâ€™s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.
â€œForty-five and forty-six, and thereâ€™s one individual with white nose right in the middle.â€
One of the symptoms of the disease is a fungus that appears on the batâ€™s nose, so itâ€™s been nicknamed white nose syndrome.
â€œThere is some white nose in that clusterâ€
â€œOne of the ideas that has been proposed by several people is that these bats have a lowered immune response because they’re hibernating. One of the ways they might avoid that is to warm up a little bit, which would possibly increase their immune response. We don’t actually know that. So what we’re doing today is trying to take thermal images to see if the infected bats are in fact warmer than the uninfected bats.â€
Justin Boyles is a PhD student at Indiana State University. As part of the effort to determine the cause of White Nose Syndrome, Justin and Jon Reichard of Boston University are using infared thermal imaging cameras to measure the body heat being generated by the bats.
â€œFifty-five, fifty-six, and that individual does have White Nose; one does.â€
â€œWe’re hoping to have some practical application with this if we can find the infected bats using thermal imaging. If we can find the bats that are a little bit warmer and they are infected, we might be able to remove those from the population or to help avoid the spread of those individuals.â€
Weâ€™ll hear more on the endangered hibernating bats of New York state, in future programs. For updates, visit our website, pulseplanet.com.
Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.