White-Nose Syndrome in Bat Populations
This activity guides the analysis of a published scientific figure from a study that modeled the impact of an infectious fungal disease on a bat population.
In 2006, a disease called white-nose syndrome (WNS) began wiping out bat populations in North America. Because many of these bats eat insect pests, the spread of WNS may devastate ecosystems and increase pest control costs. In this study, scientists mathematically modeled the effects of WNS to estimate extinction probabilities for the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) population in the northeastern United States. This figure shows these probabilities projected for five annual rates of population decline. Each projection is simulated up to 100 years after WNS emerged in the population. The “Educator Materials” document includes a captioned figure, background information, graph interpretation, and discussion questions. The “Student Handout” includes a captioned figure and background information.
Student Learning Targets
- Analyze and interpret data from a scientific figure.
- Make predictions based on a mathematical model that explores multiple assumptions and scenarios.
cumulative probability, fungus, infectious disease, invasive species, line graph, mathematical population model, regional extinction, simulation
Frick, Winifred F., Jacob F. Pollock, Alan C. Hicks, Katie E. Langwig, D. Scott Reynolds, Gregory G. Turner, Calvin M. Butchkoski, and Thomas H. Kunz. "An emerging disease causes regional population collapse of a common North American bat species." Science 329, 5992 (2010): 679–682. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1188594.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS2-2; SEP2, SEP4, SEP5
AP Biology (2019)
EVO-3.G, ENE-4.B; SP1, SP4
IB Biology (2016)
4.1, C.1, C.5
AP Environmental Science (2020)
Learning Objectives & Practices: EIN-1.C, SP5
IB Environmental Systems and Societies (2017)
Common Core (2010)
Math.S-ID.3, S-ID.6, Math.S-IC.1, S-IC.4; MP2, MP5
Vision and Change (2009)
CC5; DP2, DP3