Bats are dying. Bees too. Oh and the frogs are fucked aswell

Current Events, World Discussion, Opinions etc
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As we reach the 'peak' of our civilization, the environment we occupy continues to degrade. At which point do things reach a tipping point? Are the biological systems we depend on becoming overloaded? Could these strange co-incidences in ecological collapse be related to our genetic modification of the plants and pesticides we use to sustain the food supply for our massive population? Do we even see ourselves as part of this earth system any more or is human consciousness so detached from its origin and innate dependency on the natural environment?

Interesting times. Don't panic yet :)


A fungus has killed off about 90 percent of the state's bat population, according to scientists who recently conducted a count of hibernating bats.
This bat died of white nose syndrome in an abandoned mine in Rosendale, N.Y., in January.
This bat died of white nose syndrome in an abandoned mine in Rosendale, N.Y., in January.

The devastation was shocking in the largest hibernation spot for bats in New Jersey - Morris County's Hibernia Mine. As many as 30,000 bats normally spend the winter, but a recent count found only about 1,700 alive - and many of those showed signs of infection, said Mick Valent, principal zoologist with the state's Endangered and Non-game Species Program.

“The results we had from Hibernia Mine were certainly not good news,” Valent said.

The fungus, called white-nose syndrome for the whitish powder that appears on the nose, ears and wing membrane of infected bats, was first discovered on bats in New York in 2006. It has since been linked to the deaths of more than a million bats in 11 states, from New Hampshire to Virginia, and has also spread to Ontario, Canada. The virus appears to be following the path of the Appalachian Mountains.

“This is unprecedented and scary,” said Lance Risley, a bat researcher and chairman of the biology department at William Paterson University. “This wave has killed more mammals in the United States than anything in recent memory. It is entirely possible it could sweep all the way across the country to California, killing millions more bats.”

Experts warn that the widespread loss of bats has potential ramifications for humans, since bats consume huge quantities of bugs, including insects that damage crops or carry West Nile and other potentially fatal diseases.

The bat deaths come at a particularly bad time in New Jersey, where mosquito control experts worry that the recent rains and floods have created ample breeding grounds for mosquitoes that could result in an unusually large mosquito population. A single bat can consume more than 3,000 mosquitoes on a single summer night.

Last November, Congress approved $1.9 million for research to identify the cause and seek solutions for white-nose syndrome.
Biologists in affected states are discussing ways to help the decimated bat population recover. They are testing various fungicides, hoping to find one that might help bats recover without harming them.

New Jersey scientists, meanwhile, are considering capturing several dozen infected bats, nursing them back to health, then reintroducing them to a contaminated hibernation spot to see if they have developed immunity to the mysterious disease.
Valent first saw signs of white-nose syndrome among bats in New Jersey in the winter of of 2008-09.

The recent count confirmed his fears that it would decimate the population.

Officials say all six species of bats that hibernate in New Jersey - big brown, little brown, Indiana, northern long-eared, small-footed and tri-colored or eastern pip¬istrelle - have been affected by the fungus.

“If this keeps going, our bat populations will disappear,” Valent said.
“Once the population drops so dramatically, the genetic variability of the species goes down, and they are more susceptible to a variety of illnesses.”

Scientists are under pressure to quickly find a way to save the re¬maining bats and stop the spread¬ing to other states. “There's not a lot of evidence of any silver bullet that could work,” said Jeremy Coleman, national white-nose syndrome coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Part of the problem is we still don't know how the fungal infection leads to death.”

The running hypothesis among scientists is that the fungus irritates hibernating bats in some way, making them act erratically. They will emerge from their winter sleep, move about their caves and sometimes even fly outside as if in search for food - but all the activ¬ity causes them to burn through their fat reserves so they are unable to survive the winter.

Another theory is that some un¬known agent attacks and weakens the bats initially, and the fungus acts as an opportunist by attacking the weakened bats, Risley said. The fungus causes serious damage to the bats' wing membranes, which makes flying difficult, Risley said.

Valent said New Jersey experts are contemplating capturing several dozen infected bats from hibernation sites in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over the next month and taking them to a center where they would be fed, given fluids and nursed back to health.

“We're hoping that once we get their metabolism back up, their immune system could recover, and they might be able to fight off the fungus,” Valent said.

Then, at hibernation time in the fall, those bats would be sent to a New Hampshire hibernation site whose population was wiped out by the fungus.

Scientists would conduct air studies to make sure the site, a former mine tunnel, still contains fungus spores.

If the rehabilitated bats survive the winter without illness, it could be a sign they have built immunity to the fungus, and rehabilitation of sick bats on a wider scale might be worthwhile, Valent said.


PULLMAN, Wash. - Recent research by scientists at Washington State University suggests two potential contributors to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a mysterious malady that has slowly wiped out large numbers of bee hives throughout the United States in recent years, may be trace pesticides often found in old honeycombs and a new microscopic pathogen that has been quietly spreading throughout the Pacific Northwest and other regions of the country.

As the result of a project funded in part by regional beekeepers and the university's Agricultural Research Center, WSU Entomology Professor Walter (Steve) Sheppard and his team believe they have successfully narrowed the potential list of colony collapse culprits.

"One of the first things we looked at was the pesticide levels in the wax of older honeycombs," Sheppard said.

Using combs of CCD-affected colonies supplied by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, his group discovered many contained "fairly high levels of multiple pesticide residues." Subsequent experiments showed that bees raised in those hives "had significantly reduced longevity," Sheppard said.

The researchers noted that the types of trace chemicals found in the tested honeycombs included insecticides, herbicides, miticides and fungicides.

One easy method of addressing such chemical contamination is for beekeepers to change honeycombs more often, Sheppard said. In Europe, for example, apiarists change combs every three years.

"In the U.S., we haven't emphasized this practice and there's no real consensus about how often beekeepers should make the change," he said. "Now we know that it needs to be more often."

Another aspect of Sheppard's work - being conducted by WSU graduate student Matthew Smart - focuses on the impact of a microsporidian pathogen known as Nosema ceranae, which attacks the bee's ability to process food. Many beekeepers have considered it to be "the smoking gun" behind colony collapse.

"Nosema ceranae was only recently described in the U.S., the first time in 2007," Sheppard said. "But while no one really noticed, it has spread throughout the country."

He said Smart surveyed numerous bee colonies in both the Pacific Northwest and in California, and found the new pathogen to be very widespread.

Sheppard's earlier research found the pathogen to be a tough bug to battle. Of 24 hives checked in early 2008, Nosema build-up was high in a majority of the bees sampled. Beekeeper Eric Olson of Yakima, Wash. said he treated his hives with a mega-dose of the antibiotic fumagillin, but was surprised by the results.

"That should have caused the Nosema to either disappear or at least go down," Olson said. "But instead, the levels went up."


Chytrid fungus and chytridiomycosis

Litoria spenceri

Photo: Michael MacFadden

Chytrid fungi were long thought to be predominantly free-living saprophytes, with a few species capable of infecting only invertebrates and vascular plants. However, in 1999 a new species - Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (hereafter Bd) - was described infecting amphibians and causing the often fatal disease, chytridiomycosis. Since that discovery, Bd has been identified in association with amphibian population declines on every amphibian-inhabited continent.

Bd is thought to have originated in South Africa, where the earliest record occurs in a museum specimen from the 1930s, and initially spread by the commercial trade in clawed frogs (Xenopus). For more information on the origins and spread of Bd, see the article by Weldon et al at

From the site of its introduction, Bd spreads through water courses and amphibian-to-amphibian contact, and possibly by other mechanisms not yet fully understood. In Central America, where the spread of Bd has been extensively studied, its rate of progression has been calculated at 28-100 km/year.

Where Bd thrives, generally in moist cool habitats, 50% of amphibian species and 80% of individuals can be expected to disappear within one year (Lips et al. 2006; ... 202006.pdf). Currently it cannot be stopped in the wild and a minority of species seem able to survive with a Bd infection as larvae or as adults and these animals likely serve as a reservoir and vectors for future outbreaks. Notable among resistant species are worldwide invasive pest species including marine toads, American bullfrogs and African clawed frogs.

Whilst the problem is undoubtedly severe, and may seem overwhelming, there is some reason for hope. Though many susceptible species decline rapidly and disappear, at least one appears to be coming back from the brink of extinction after 10 years. For a detailed accounting of Bd and a model regional response, see the Australian's ‘Threat Abatement Plan at ... ibians.pdf and ‘Action Plan for Australian Frogs’ at ... ion/frogs/
Galactic Monkey
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Supposedly Einstein said that when the bees die the humanity will have about 4 years to live.
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I don't claim to know anything about the science of it, but it wouldn't surprise me. This planet is a system, like our body is a system, and the galaxy is a system. I could easily see something bad happening to our planet because of the strain we have put on it.

Interesting question about when the tipping point will be. But from what I have learned about our past and present is that nothing changes until something forces change. I dont believe this way of life in general will change until something forces it too.

Why are we so against change?
Galactic Monkey
Posts: 1149
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2006 4:03 pm

[sarcasm]Who needs bees when you have self-pollinating almonds? Problem solved![/sarcasm]
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Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:35 pm

Hey that's true - and the almonds won't sting you or nuthin'! 8)

Now all we need is honey flavouring to add to sugar syrup and we're all sorted, without those buzzy stinging things.
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synthz wrote :

Why are we so against change?

$$$ Company Profits $$$ :mrgreen:
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and this is the International Year of bio[diversity]

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Joined: Wed May 17, 2006 9:39 pm

bio[diversity] wrote :
and this is the International Year of bio[diversity]


Mate, every year should be dedicated to you & your awesome attitude :D :arrow: :drink:
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