Meeting Abstract

S2.11  Sunday, Jan. 4 15:00  Using Physiology and Behavior to Tackle Wildlife Disease: Lessons from White Nose Syndrome in Hibernating Bats WILLIS, Craig; University of Winnipeg

Infectious diseases are increasingly recognized as a global conservation issue and disease management is an important aspect of wildlife conservation. Physiological responses of hosts to pathogens (e.g., innate and acquired immunity) form the basis of the classic “SIR” population models which define hosts as Susceptible, Infected or Resistant to predict disease consequences. However, behavioral responses of hosts to infection, or infection risk, have received less theoretical and empirical attention despite their potential to inform our understanding of disease pathophysiology, and improve our ability to design strategies for management. The recently emerged fungal disease, white-nose syndrome (WNS), has caused catastrophic population declines of hibernating bats in eastern North America. Research on WNS has highlighted the value of combining approaches from conservation physiology and conservation behavior to address questions about the pathophysiology of disease in individual animals, and resulting impacts of disease on populations. Using WNS as an example, I propose a framework to better integrate measures of physiology and behaviour, particularly measures that reflect host susceptibility and fitness, and pathogen fitness, into the classic SIR paradigm. This integrative approach to understanding emerging diseases of wildlife could help address the daunting task of disease management in natural systems.