Date of Graduation

Spring 2010


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Thomas Tomasi


little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus, White-Nose Syndrome, torpid metabolic rate, body temperature, leptin

Subject Categories



White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a large-scale epidemic that is killing cave-dwelling bats in the eastern United States during the winter. Even though the ultimate cause of death is probably related to a fungal infection, the proximal cause seems to be depletion of fat reserves before hibernation is over. I hypothesized that little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) affected with WNS have shallower torpor depth and elevated torpid metabolic rates than unaffected bats. Body temperatures (with iBBat temperature-sensitive dataloggers) and oxygen consumption rates were measured throughout the 2008-2009 hibernation season at a Williams Lake Hotel mine in NY, at Woodward Cave in PA, and at Brooks Cave on Ft. Leonard Wood military base in MO. Fat reserves were also measured indirectly by body mass and serum leptin levels (via RIA). The metabolic rates of bats in NY were two to three times higher that of bats in PA (P < 0.0005). Torpid metabolic rates of bats in PA were similar to rates measured in other bat species. This is consistent with my hypothesis, even though WNS was detected in Woodward Cave by March 2009. Bats in MO had intermediate rates of metabolism, possibly due to geographic differences. I estimate that the higher metabolic rates during torpor (not accounting for changes in arousal patterns) in NY bats would utilize an additional 0.7 grams of fat over the winter and this may be part of the reason why affected bats are starving to death. Body mass and leptin concentrations are correlated (P = 0.040) and decreased throughout hibernation as expected.


© Amanda Frances Janicki

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