Bats: Worse Than Decimated
The recently publicized and now second-year bat disorder being called “white nose syndrome” has been found in Connecticut, a new state added to the list. But then, neither the bats or the purported agent of disease can see the artificial state lines on the ground.
I’ve seen over and over again the comparison of WNS to CCD and this could be misleading.
State biologists announced on Friday they have found bats afflicted with a fungus called “white-nose syndrome” hibernating in unnamed locations in northern Litchfield County near the Massachusetts border. The fungus is similar to a mysterious illness that has decimated the honey bee population.
The two conditions are “similar” in that they both involve large numbers of individual animal deaths, are new disorders to us, and their causes remain a mystery. To imply that they have “similar” etiologies is way premature and given the different lifestyles and the distance between the mammalian bat and the arthropod bee, the cause–should we ever have a definitive answer–might be entirely different. Or both may be related to pesticides, cell phones, sun spots, climate change or some other common factor. We are embarrassingly ignorant at this point.
Here again (I’ve seen it reproduced ad nauseum in copy-cat reposts on this topic) bee and bat populations are said to be “decimated”. Not. I understand the author’s intent but would quibble with the chosen verb. In fact, bat populations are showing something like 90% declines. Many bee colonies are obliterated entirely.
Deci-mated. The word comes from the Latin based on the root word for TEN–as in decimal or decade. As I have heard it, it is a military term from the time of the Roman armies. A general considered his losses unsustainable if his troops had been “decimated” with a ten percent loss in a particular battle.
There’s a good bit of difference between the General’s 10% and the bats’ 90%. There, I feel better.