Date of Award

Summer 7-22-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Integrative Biology (MSIB)



Major Professor

Christopher T. Cornelison

First Committee Member

Jonathan McMurry

Second Committee Member

Christopher Sanford

Third Committee Member

Thomas McElroy


Pseudogymnoascus destructans is an emerging fungal pathogen causing precipitous declines in North American bats due to the development of white-nose syndrome. Since 2006, 34 U.S. states and 7 Canadian provinces have confirmed the presence of P. destructans. Due to the rapid spread of P. destructans across the eastern United States, habitat characterization and disease monitoring has become vital to conserving remnant populations. Bats have been observed in multiple states using non-traditional habitat, such as interstate culverts, for roosting. To investigate their use of anthropogenic structures in coastal Georgia, an area where P. destructans has yet-to-be detected, comprehensive bridge and culvert surveys were conducted during the hibernation season. Over 140 swabs of bats and substrates were collected and analyzed for fungal presence using qPCR. Monthly culvert surveys were conducted to assess bat presence and collect culvert temperature data. Seasonal data further characterized optimal tri-colored bat habitat and, along with WNS surveys, identify suitable habitat for developing WNS. This data addresses the knowledge gap regarding the seasonality of bat use of bridges and culverts in coastal Georgia, P. destructans presence and burden, and the potential role bridge and culvert roosts play in disease transmission.