With over 1300 species identified, bats represent almost one quarter of the world’s mammals (Fenton and Simmons 2014), bats provide important environmental services such as insect pest suppression, seed dispersal, and pollination and inhabit a wide variety of ecological niches on all continents except Antarctica. Over 150 species are listed as endangered or vulnerable to extinction, primarily due to habitat degradation. Despite their ubiquity and ecological importance, relatively little has been published on diseases of bats, while much has been written on bats’ role as reservoirs in disease transmission. The decimation of certain bat populations in North America following the introduction of the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the cause of white-nose syndrome has served to highlight both the importance and vulnerability of bats and has resulted in increased focus on disease threats to free-ranging bat populations. In addition to the threat of infectious disease, the close proximity of bats to humans, including the use of human structures for hibernation and their service as a food source in many parts of the world, result in their susceptibility to anthropomorphic threats such as trauma, toxicosis, and habitat loss. Ultimately, the interdependence of bats and humans means that an understanding of their health is critical for understanding and preserving human, domestic animal, and ecosystem health.
|Publication type||Book chapter|
|Publication Subtype||Book Chapter|
|Contributing office(s)||National Wildlife Health Center|
|Larger Work Type||Book|
|Larger Work Title||Pathology of wildlife and zoo animals|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|