News FocusEcology

Biologists Struggle to Solve Bat Deaths

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Science  29 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5931, pp. 1134-1135
DOI: 10.1126/science.324_1134

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An unknown killer has been wiping out populations of six species of hibernating bats in the northeastern United States in what appears to be the biggest die-off on record. So far, scientists studying the problem have more questions than answers. The task is urgent. The disappearance of these bats could have larger impacts on ecosystems, as these night flyers hunt insects that annoy humans and damage crops. And last October, a group of more than 100 participants from a science strategy meeting concluded that if the problem continues to expand at its current rate, entire species—including the endangered big-eared bat in Virginia and Indiana—could be in jeopardy.