Lecture to Share White-Nose Syndrome Research, Management, and Response

Oct 9, 2017

DUBUQUE, Iowa – Christina Kocer will present “A Wildlife Biologist’s Journey From Badgers to Bats and an Unprecedented Wildlife Disease” on Monday, Oct. 16, at 2:30 p.m. in Room 105 of the University Science Center on the University of Dubuque campus.

The event is free and open to the public. It is part of the UD Department of Natural and Applied Sciences Fall Science Seminar.

Kocer (C’99) is a wildlife biologist and the northeast regional white-nose syndrome coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As coordinator, Kocer works closely with state, federal, and academic institutions as well as non-governmental partners involved in white-nose syndrome research and response. She helps coordinate research, develops protocols and management plans, and responds to public inquiries about white-nose syndrome. Kocer also assists agency biologists with white-nose syndrome surveillance and monitoring in the field.

During her presentation, Kocer will discuss her career path and the current state of white-nose syndrome research, management, and response.

Kocer graduated from UD with a bachelor of science in environmental science. She received her master’s degree in wildlife ecology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She went on to work for the Wildlife Diversity Program at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. From there, she joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and became their Northeast Regional White-Nose Syndrome Coordinator. Kocer was in the northeast when white-nose syndrome was first documented, so she has been involved in the state and federal responses to the disease in multiple capacities since its discovery.

UD students have researched bat populations for more than five years to learn about bat ecology and assess their risk of exposure to the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome. The fungus disrupts bats during hibernation which causes them to search for food and water. Gerald Zuercher, professor of vertebrate ecology at UD, said bats affected by white-nose syndrome essentially starve to death when forced to be active during winter months.

Zuercher said UD students documented significant changes in eastern Iowa’s bat community this past summer, likely due to the impact of white-nose syndrome. Students recorded 80 percent fewer bat calls and captured 75 percent fewer total bats.