Disease and community structure: whitenose syndrome alters spatial and temporal niche partitioning in sympatric bat species

Author(s): David S. Jachowski, Chris A. Dobony, Laci S. Coleman, William M. Ford, Eric R. Britzke, and Jane L. Rodrigue

Publication: Biodiversity Research

Abstract: Emerging infectious diseases present a major perturbation with apparent direct effects such as reduced population density, extirpation and/or extinction. Comparatively less is known about the potential indirect effects of disease that likely alter community structure and larger ecosystem function. Since 2006, white-nose syndrome (WNS) has resulted in the loss of over 6 million hibernating bats in eastern North America. Considerable evidence exists concerning niche partitioning in sympatric bat species in this region, and the unprecedented, rapid decline in multiple species following WNS may provide an opportunity to observe a dramatic restructuring of the bat community.

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