Several factors have affected Quebec’s bat populations. The main problems are illness, loss of habitat, the use of pesticides, and human disturbance (Fenton, 2001).
In addition to contributing to biodiversity, Quebec’s bats help eliminate many pests that are harmful to agriculture and, consequently, reduce pesticide use. (Boisseau, 2014). One study demonstrated that the consumption of insects by bats could save the North American agriculture industry 3.7 billion dollars per year (Boisseau, 2014).
In 2006, a fungus from Europe called Pseudogymnoascus destructans appeared in North America. It arrived in Quebec in 2010 (MFFP, 2015). The number of cases of white-nose syndrome, which is caused by this fungus, has risen over the years. In North America, white-nose syndrome particularly affects hibernating bat species (Dumouchel, 2015). The cold-loving fungus attacks the tissues of hibernating bats in caves, causing a fungal infection. Consequently, infected bats wake up more often during the winter, which causes them to use up their fat reserves too quickly (COSEWIC, 2013). As a result, many bats die of exhaustion before the end of the winter. Over the past few years, hundreds of cave-dwelling bat populations have been decimated by the disease. This has led to a major imbalance in the food chains of our ecosystems.
It is estimated that between 5.7 and 6.7 million bats have died from white-nose syndrome since the fungus arrived on the continent (Dumouchel, 2015). According to COSEWIC data, 94% of tri-coloured bats, 98% of little brown bats, and 99.8% of northern long-eared myotis have died from the disease (COSEWIC, 2013).
Credit :Daniel Jauvin
Boisseau, Gaétane. 2014. Le syndrome du museau blanc : une maladie galopante qui menace la survie des chauves-souris hibernantes. InVivo, 2 :6-8.
Comité sur la situation des espèces en péril au Canada (COSEPAC). 2013. Évaluation et Rapport de situation du COSEPAC sur la petite chauve-souris brune (Myotis lucifugus), chauve-souris nordique (Myotis septentrionalis) et la pipistrelle de l’Est (Perimyotis subflavus) au Canada. Gouvernement du Canada. 104p.
Dumouchel, Christine. 2015. Stratégies visant le rétablissement et le maintien des populations de chauves-souris du Québec. Université de Sherbrooke. 115p.
Fenton, M. Brock. 2001. Bats, revised edition. Checkmark Books. 2e edition. New-York. 224p.
Ministère de la Forêt, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP). 2015. (Page consultée le 02/12/17). Syndrome du museau blanc chez les chauves-souris. (En ligne). http://www.mffp.gouv.qc.ca/faune/sante-maladies/syndrome-chauve-souris.jsp