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Data from: Population genetic structure of a common host predicts the spread of white-nose syndrome, an emerging infectious disease in bats

Citation

Wilder, Aryn P.; Kunz, Thomas H.; Sorenson, Michael D. (2015), Data from: Population genetic structure of a common host predicts the spread of white-nose syndrome, an emerging infectious disease in bats, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.v1v13

Abstract

Landscape complexity influences patterns of animal dispersal, which in turn may affect both gene flow and the spread of pathogens. White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an introduced fungal disease that has spread rapidly throughout eastern North America, causing massive mortality in bat populations. We tested for a relationship between the population genetic structure of the most common host, the little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus), and the geographic spread of WNS to date by evaluating logistic regression models of WNS risk among hibernating colonies in eastern North America. We hypothesized that risk of WNS to susceptible host colonies should increase with both geographic proximity and genetic similarity, reflecting historical connectivity, to infected colonies. Consistent with this hypothesis, inclusion of genetic distance between infected and susceptible colonies significantly improved models of disease spread, capturing heterogeneity in the spatial expansion of WNS despite low levels of genetic differentiation among eastern populations. Expanding our genetic analysis to the continental range of little brown myotis reveals strongly contrasting patterns of population structure between eastern and western North America. Genetic structure increases markedly moving westward into the northern Great Plains, beyond the current distribution of WNS. In western North America, genetic differentiation of geographically proximate populations often exceeds levels observed across the entire eastern region, suggesting infrequent and/or locally restricted dispersal, and thus relatively limited opportunities for pathogen introduction in western North America. Taken together, our analyses suggest a possibly slower future rate of spread of the WNS pathogen, at least as mediated by little brown myotis.

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