SciTech Central 113: Invasive Species

SciTech Central 113: Invasive Species


>>FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING, AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THIS STATION. COMING UP, SOMETIMES INVADERS COME IN SEEMINGLY BENIGN FORMS.>>THE PROBLEM IS THAT BRAZILIAN PEPPER GROWS WELL ON THE EDGE OF THOSE WET SOILS AND EVENTUALLY WILL CROWD OUT A LOT OF THE OTHER PLANTS HERE, AND TAKE OVER THIS SPACE.>>AND, STOPPING POACHERS IN THEIR TRACKS.>>IT’S AMAZING HOW THEY CAN FIND THAT MANY IN THIS SHORT TIME. BUT HOW CAN YOU PROVE IT? BY US BEING THERE HOPEFULLY WE CAN CATCH THEM GOING INTO THOSE CATCH.>>EXPLORING THE FRONTIERS OF SCIENCE, PROBING CUTTING EDGE TECHNOLOGIES, SEEKING ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS. WELCOME TO SCITECH CENTRAL.>>INVASIVE SPECIES COME IN MANY FORMS AND ARE A COMPLEX AND DIFFICULT PROBLEM. MITIGATING THE DAMAGE THEY CAUSE WONT’ BE EASY. BUT IT IS ACHIEVABLE, AS LONG AS EVERYONE DOES THEIR PART. “INVASIVE SPECIES.” IT MAY SOUND LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF A SCIENCE FICTION MOVIE, BUT THEY’RE VERY REAL.>>THERE’S TWO MAIN TYPES OF INVASIVE SPECIES. ONE WOULD BE A NATIVE AND THE OTHER WOULD BE AN EXOTIC. EXOTIC INVASIVE ARE THE ONES THAT COME FROM SOMEPLACE ELSE, GET INOCULATED INTO AN AREA BECAUSE WE’VE PLANTED THEM OR INTRODUCED THEM SOMEHOW. AND THEN EVENTUALLY JUST KEEP GROWING SO MUCH THAT THEY START SHOVING OUT OTHER SPECIES. WE WANT TO MAINTAIN BIODIVERSITY. THE EXOTICS MAKE THINGS LOOK MORE HOMOGENOUS.>>IN SOUTH FLORIDA, GIANT AFRICAN SNAILS HAVE BECOME A MAJOR CONCERN.>>THE BIGGEST SNAIL WE FOUND HERE, IT WAS CLOSE TO SEVEN INCHES.>>THE SNAILS THREATEN NATIVE SPECIES BECAUSE OF THEIR VORACIOUS APPETITE, THEY FEAST ON AT LEAST 500 PLANT SPECIES–AND THEIR ABILITY TO RAPIDLY REPRODUCE.>>IN SEPTEMBER 2014 ONLY IN ONE HOUSE, WE FOUND MORE THAN 4,000 SNAILS.>>THEY ALSO POSE A THREAT TO PEOPLE.>>THE HUMAN AND ANIMAL HEALTH THREAT HAS BEEN CONFIRMED BY THE CDC OF THE PRESENCE OF ANGIOSTRONGYLUS CANTONENSIS WHICH CAN LEAD TO A VERY RARE FORM OF MENINGITIS AND THERE IS NO CURE FOR THAT.>>OFTEN IT’S ANIMALS THAT GET PEOPLE’S ATTENTION. INVASIVE SPECIES LIKE NILE MONITOR LIZARDS, BURMESE PYTHONS AND LION-FISH ARE WELL KNOWN TO MANY FLORIDIANS. EVEN BENIGN LOOKING PLANTS CAN POSE SERIOUS THREATS TO OUR NATIVE ECOSYSTEMS.>>THIS PLANT RIGHT HERE IS BRAZILIAN PEPPER. IT’S IN AMONG SOME OTHER TREES, OAKS, ETC. I’M NOT TOUCHING IT ON PURPOSE, BECAUSE I MIGHT REACT VERY MUCH LIKE PEOPLE REACT WITH POISON IVY. THIS IS ON THE EDGE OF A WETLAND AND IT’S A RATHER NICE CYPRUS DOME. I’M THINKING IT’S A BEAUTIFUL WETLAND. THE PROBLEM IS THAT BRAZILIAN PEPPER GROWS WELL ON THE EDGE OF THOSE WET SOILS AND EVENTUALLY WILL CROWD OUT A LOT OF THE OTHER PLANTS HERE AND TAKE OVER THIS SPACE. ALSO NOTICE IT’S A FAIRLY EMPTY ZONE RIGHT HERE. THAT MIGHT VERY WELL BE TO THE CHEMICAL RAIN THAT COMES DOWN FROM THIS PLANT THAT INHIBITS OTHER PLANTS.>>THE BRAZILIAN PEPPER TREE WAS BROUGHT TO THE U.S. AS A NURSERY PLANT IN THE 19TH CENTURY. BUT IT LONG AGO ESCAPED BACKYARDS AND HAS THRIVED IN CENTRAL FLORIDA.>>IT’S OVER 700,000 ACRES. PROBABLY MORE LIKE 750,000 ACRES NOW THAT IS OCCUPIED BY BRAZILIAN PEPPER. AND THAT’S VERY COMPARABLE TO THE COMBINED TWO COUNTIES OF ORANGE AND SEMINOLE COUNTIES.>>AS WITH MANY INVASIVE’S, ERADICATING BRAZILIAN PEPPER IS A DIFFICULT TASK.>>TO GET RID OF THIS MEANS YOU HAVE TO COME IN HERE AND CUT THIS, PROBABLY DRAG THOSE BRANCHES OUT OF HERE. VERY CAREFULLY CLOTHED SO YOU’RE NOT BREAKING OUT IN A RASH FROM THIS CHEMICAL. BUT THEN IT USUALLY REQUIRES SOME FOLLOW UP BECAUSE IT CAN RE-SPROUT. AND SO ONE OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE WILL DO IS TO TREAT THAT STUMP WITH A CHEMICAL. THAT REQUIRES SOME TRAINING AND SOME PERMITS BECAUSE YOU CAN’T NECESSARILY JUST SPRAY THIS STUFF INTO A WETLAND.>>PREVENTION IS OFTEN A MUCH CHEAPER ALTERNATIVE. BUT IT REQUIRES THE EFFORT OF MANY INDIVIDUALS.>>THE AVERAGE HOMEOWNER CAN JUST THINK ABOUT THE KINDS OF PLANTS THAT THEY MIGHT BE PLANTING IN THE YARD. THE ONES THAT WOULD GROW TOO FAST AND SPREAD TOO FAR. WE COULD THINK ABOUT IT IN TERMS OF THE ANIMALS THAT WE CHOOSE TO OWN AS PETS. WE CAN THINK ABOUT WHAT WE DO WITH THOSE ANIMALS WHEN WE’RE TIRED OF FEEDING THESE LARGE THINGS.>>INVASIVE SPECIES CAN HAVE A SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC IMPACT, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY THREATEN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS. BUT THEY THREATEN SOMETHING EVEN MORE PRECIOUS TO MANY FLORIDIANS.>>WE NEED TO THINK ABOUT WHAT DO WE WANT OUR WORLD TO LOOK LIKE? AND HOW MUCH DO WE HAVE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THAT WORLD? WE HAVE TO THINK ABOUT HOW MUCH ARE WE WISHING TO RETAIN SOME OF THE THINGS THAT WE FOUND VALUABLE WHEN WE FIRST STARTED THINKING ABOUT MOVING TO FLORIDA, OR WHEN WE HAD FAMILIES THAT GREW UP HERE. THE THINGS THAT MAKE FLORIDA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD WILL BE KIND OF SMUDGED AND ERASED BY INVASIVE SPECIES FROM LOTS OF OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD THAT SHOW UP HERE. AND SO WE WILL LOSE THIS UNIQUE CORNER OF THE WORLD. THAT SHOULD MATTER TO US FUNDAMENTALLY.>>HI I’M SANDOR KELLY, WELCOME TO THE BUG CLOSET. SINCE THE EARLY 90’S A LOT HAS HAPPENED. THE COLLECTION HAS GONE FROM WHAT WAS IN THIS TINY ROOM TO OVER 500,000 SPECIMENS ALL DATA BASED WHICH IS UNIQUE. NO COLLECTIONS THIS LARGE HAVE ALL THEIR SPECIMENS DATA BASED.>>SO WE HAVE OVER HALF A MILLION SPECIMENS. SOME OF THEM YOU CAN’T SEE WITH YOUR NAKED EYE. WE PROBABLY HAVE OVER 100 SPECIMENS IN THIS PARTICULAR DRAWER. THEY DON’T TAKE UP A LOT OF SPACE.>>WE MOVED FROM JUST COLLECTING AROUND CAMPUS TO DOING DIVERSITY SURVEYS AROUND THE STATE AND EVEN AROUND THE COUNTRY AND AROUND THE WORLD. BUT WE’RE STILL MAINLY FOCUSED ON THIS REGION, CENTRAL FLORIDA.>>THIS IS JUST A SNAP SHOT IN TIME TO SEE WHAT’S IN CENTRAL FLORIDA THAT WE CAN USE AS HISTORICAL DATA, BECAUSE EACH TAG HAS A DATE WHEN IT’S COLLECTED AND WHERE IT’S COLLECTED TO DETRACT DIFFERENT CHANGES AND THE INSECT POPULATIONS OVER TIME. A LOT OF PEOPLE DON’T REALIZE, THIS IS WHAT GOES ON BEHIND MUSEUMS. AND THERE’S SCIENTISTS WORKING BEHIND THE SCENES TO JUST CATALOG THIS BIODIVERSITY.>>MY JOB IS I IDENTIFY THE STUFF WE GET INTO THE COLLECTION. CURRENTLY I’M WORKING ON GROUND BEETLES. WE GET THEM IN, WE PIN THEM AND THEN WE USE OUR MICROSCOPE AND A BOOK WHICH IS CALLED A DICHOTOMOUS KEY TO IDENTIFY THEM AND THEN WE SORT THEM DOWN TO GENOUS AND SPECIES. SO EACH SINGLE SPECIMEN, IT HAS A NUMBER ON IT AND THAT NUMBER CORRESPONDS TO ALL THE INFORMATION THAT’S IN THE DATA BASE. IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND BIODIVERSITY, ESPECIALLY IF TINY THINGS LIKE INSECTS AND OTHER ARTHROPODS, YOU NEED TO HAVE A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN STUDY THEM AND THAT’S WHAT WE DO HERE.>>WE HAVE FOUND TWENTY NEW SPECIES, MAINLY WASPS. WE HAVE FOUND SEVERAL BEETLE SPECIES AND ALSO A FLY SPECIES.>>WE’VE HAD MANYS STUDENTS, INCLUDING MYSELF, THAT HAVE GONE ON TO PURSUE A CAREER OR AN ADVANCE DEGREE IN BIOLOGY OR ENTOMOLOGY BECAUSE THEY WORKED IN HERE AND BEEN INSPIRED BY WHAT WE DO IN HERE.>>POACHERS AREN’T USUALLY CAUGHT IN THE ACT SINCE THE CRIME SCENE IS OFTEN A VAST WILDERNESS AND THE VICTIM’S CAN’T SPEAK. BUT IN OREGON, AN UNUSUAL GROUP OF CRIME INVESTIGATORS USE CUTTING EDGE TECHNIQUES TO HELP STOP THE ILLEGAL TRADE IN PROTECTED WILDLIFE.>>MEET THE DERMESTID BEETLE. USUALLY AT HOME IN THE FORESTS OF THE NORTHWEST, THIS LITTLE CRITTER IS ON THE U.S. GOVERNMENT PAYROLL. ITS TAKE-HOME PAY IS ALL YOU CAN EAT.>>I’M SURE THEY’RE PRETTY HUNGRY, AND THIS IS A NICE FRESH BODY FOR THEM TO WORK ON.>>FORENSIC SCIENTISTS USE THESE FLESH-EATING BEETLES TO STRIP ANIMAL CARCASSES DOWN TO THE BONE. THE BEETLES ARE JUST ONE TOOL USED AT THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE’S FORENSICS LAB IN ASHLAND, OREGON. IT’S THE ONLY LAB IN THE WORLD DEDICATED TO SOLVING CRIMES AGAINST WILDLIFE. KEN GODDARD IS THE DIRECTOR.>>MUCH LIKE ANY OTHER POLICE CRIME LAB, WE DO TWO BASIC THINGS. WE IDENTIFY EVIDENCE. IN A TRIANGULAR FASHION WE ATTEMPT TO LINK SUSPECT, VICTIM AND CRIME SCENE TOGETHER WITH THAT EVIDENCE. THE BIG DIFFERENCE IN OUR CASE IS ONE, OUR VICTIM IS A NON-HUMAN ANIMAL. TWO, WE GENERALLY DON’T GET A WHOLE ANIMAL IN. WE GET PIECES, PARTS, PRODUCTS.>>THE LAB TAKES CASES FROM ACROSS THE UNITED STATES AND AROUND THE WORLD. IT’S THE OFFICIAL CRIME LAB FOR CITES — THE CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES. THE CITES TREATY IS THE INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT THAT GOVERNS TRAFFICKING OF RARE PLANTS AND ANIMALS. HERE IN THE LAB, A MENAGERIE OF THE COLORFUL, THE UNUSUAL AND THE HUNTED IS INTERSPERSED AMONG THE HIGH-TECH EQUIPMENT OF FORENSIC SCIENCE. THE FACILITY FEATURES A PATHOLOGY LAB WHERE MEDICAL EXAMINERS DETERMINE HOW AN ANIMAL DIED; A BALLISTICS LAB WHERE BULLETS CAN BE LINKED TO POACHERS’ GUNS; A GENOMICS LAB WHERE DNA TESTING IS DONE; AND A MORPHOLOGY LAB, WHERE BIOLOGISTS IDENTIFY THE EVIDENCE. IN FACT, THAT’S THE MOST COMMON REQUEST THEY GET.>>BASICALLY YOU WOULD NOT CONTINUE AN INVESTIGATION UNLESS YOU’RE PRETTY SURE YOU’RE DEALING WITH ENDANGERED OR THREATENED SPECIES. IF IT’S WOLF PARTS, SURE YOU’RE GOING TO GO AFTER THAT. IF IT COYOTE FUR? PROBABLY NOT.>>BECAUSE THE ASHLAND LAB IS THE ONLY ONE OF ITS KIND, THE ONUS HAS BEEN ON GODDARD AND HIS STAFF OF 15 FORENSIC EXPERTS TO DEVELOP NEW WAYS TO ANALYZE EVIDENCE AND SECURE CONVICTIONS. DEPUTY LAB CHIEF ED ESPINOZA HAS BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR MANY OF THE INNOVATIONS IN FORENSIC TECHNOLOGY AND TECHNIQUES. HIS LATEST CHALLENGE HAS BEEN FIGURING OUT HOW TO IDENTIFY SPECIES OF TREES. YOU MIGHT NOT THINK OF “TREES” AS TYPICAL WILDLIFE. ILLEGAL LOGGING MAY NOT ATTRACT THE SAME ATTENTION AS RHINO, TIGER OR ELEPHANT POACHING. BUT TREES ARE A VITAL PART OF ANY ECOSYSTEM, AND CITES LISTS NEARLY 50 THREATENED AND ENDANGERED TIMBER SPECIES. U.S. FEDERAL AGENTS HAVE BEGUN SEIZING SHIPMENTS OF ILLEGALLY TRAFFICKED WOOD –RARE SPECIES LIKE BRAZILIAN ROSEWOOD. IT GARNERS A HEFTY PRICE ON THE BLACK-MARKET AND IS PRIZED IN MAKING FURNITURE AND MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS. BUT DETERMINING WHICH TYPE OF ROSEWOOD WAS USED IS IMPOSSIBLE AFTER THE LIMBS, LEAVES AND DNA-RICH SAPWOOD HAVE BEEN REMOVED.>>THESE TWO WOODS ARE VISUALLY AND MORPHOLOGICALLY INDISTINGUISHABLE. THEY HAVE VERY SIMILAR NAMES. ONE’S CALLED BRAZILIAN ROSEWOOD, THE OTHER IS CALLED AMAZONIAN ROSEWOOD. MOST OF US, IN OUR HEAD THEY BECOME SYNONYMOUS. THE AMAZON IS IN BRAZIL, THEREFORE IT’S THE SAME THING, RIGHT? AND SO IT’S KIND OF A TRICK IN TERMS OF THE NAMING. BUT ONE IS PROTECTED, DALBERGIA NIGRA, OR BRAZILIAN ROSEWOOD, IS PROTECTED. AND DALBERGIA SPRUCEANA, OR AMAZONIAN ROSEWOOD, IS NOT. SO THE CHALLENGE FOR US IS–THE SCIENTIFIC CHALLENGE–CAN WE SEPARATE THESE TWO IN ORDER TO ENFORCE THE CITES TREATY?>>TO DO THAT, ESPINOZA AND HIS TEAM INNOVATED A WAY TO IDENTIFY PROTECTED SPECIES OF WOOD USING A TECHNOLOGY CALLED A DART MASS SPECTROMETER. FIRST HE PLANES OFF A SMALL SLIVER FROM THE EVIDENCE SAMPLE. THEN HE PUTS THE DART TO WORK. THE MACHINE IONIZES AND IDENTIFIES MOLECULES IN THE WOOD –CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS THAT ARE UNIQUE TO A SPECIFIC SPECIES OF TREE. IT THEN SPITS OUT THE DATA.>>EACH ONE OF THESE PEAKS CORRESPONDS TO A DISTINCT, DIFFERENT MOLECULE THAT IS PRESENT IN THE ROSEWOOD. FROM MY EXPERIENCE, I KNOW THAT THIS PARTICULAR PEAK, WHICH IS A COMPOUND CALLED CAVIUNAN, IS SPECIFIC TO DALBERGIA NIGRA.>>COMPARING THE DATA TO A GROWING LIBRARY OF CHEMICAL SIGNATURES, ESPINOZA CAN POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE WOOD, AND IN SOME CASES EVEN DETERMINE WHERE THE SPECIFIC TREE GREW.>>YEAH I THINK THESE WOOD CASES ARE FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN JUST THE WOOD. I MEAN, TREES CAN BE REGROWN. YOU KNOW, IT’S PRETTY EASY, IT MAY TAKE A WHILE. YOU KNOW, YOU DON’T GET A BIG REDWOOD REPLACEMENT IN A FEW YEARS. BUT THEY ARE REPLACEABLE. THAT MAY NOT BE TRUE FOR THE SPECIES THAT LIVED IN THAT FOREST. THAT MAY BE ONE OF THE LAST SURVIVAL POINTS. WE’VE GOTTA BE REALLY CAREFUL ABOUT THAT.>>THIS YEAR, THE LAB’S STAFF IS EXPANDING BY ABOUT FIFTY PERCENT, LETTING IT TAKE ON MORE CASES. BUT GODDARD SAYS IT WILL TAKE MORE THAN JUST AN INCREASE IN MANPOWER.>>WE’VE MADE GREAT ADVANCES OVER THIS LAST 25 YEARS, BUT WE’VE GOT A LONG WAY TO GO. LAW ENFORCEMENT DOESN’T RESOLVE ISSUES. THE BEST THAT WE CAN DO IS HOLD THINGS AT BAY; KEEP THEM FROM GETTING WORSE UNTIL SMARTER PEOPLE COME ALONG.>>UNTIL THEN, KEN GODDARD AND HIS TEAM WILL KEEP WORKING SLIVER BY SLIVER, BEETLE BITE BY BEETLE BITE, USING INNOVATION AND FORENSIC SCIENCE TO BRING WILDLIFE TRAFFICKERS TO JUSTICE.>>BATS, ALTHOUGH OFTEN VIEWED WITH FEAR AND DREAD, ARE PEACEFUL CREATURES THAT PLAY A VITAL ROLE IN THE ENVIRONMENT. BUT NEARLY A DOZEN SPECIES HAVE BEEN STRUCK BY A MYSTERIOUS DISEASE THAT’S ALREADY KILLED MILLIONS OF THESE ECOLOGICALLY IMPORTANT ANIMALS.>>IN A LABORATORY IN WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY, DR. MAARTEN VONHOF IS WORKING TO STOP THE SPREAD OF A PLAGUE. DR. VONHOF ISN’T A PHYSICIAN. HE’S AN EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGIST, AND HIS PATIENTS ARE A LITTLE UNUSUAL.>>WE HAVE BATS THAT WE ARE ARTIFICIALLY HIBERNATING, UH, IN OUR LAB. THESE BATS HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO THE FUNGUS THAT CAUSES WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME.>>WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME IS A DISEASE CAUSED BY A FUNGUS. A FUNGUS THAT THRIVES IN COOL, HUMID ENVIRONMENTS. LIKE IN THE VERY PLACES SOME SPECIES OF BATS LOVE TO HIBERNATE. WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME WAS FIRST DISCOVERED IN 2006 NEAR ALBANY, NEW YORK, AND SINCE ITS DISCOVERY, IT’S SPREAD TO 25 STATES AND 5 CANADIAN PROVINCES.>>IT’S OF GREAT CONCERN. MILLIONS OF BATS HAVE DIED. THE LAST ESTIMATE WAS OVER 6 MILLION BATS HAVE DIED HERE IN NORTH AMERICA, AND THIS HAS VERY IMPORTANT CONSEQUENCES FOR THE LONG-TERM HEALTH OF BAT POPULATIONS, AND YOU KNOW, SUBSEQUENTLY THEN BECAUSE BATS INTERACT WITH OTHER ORGANISMS, YOU KNOW, LONG-TERM IMPACTS FOR THE HEALTH OF OUR ENVIRONMENT.>>GROUND ZERO FOR BATTLING THE DISEASE IS NOW MICHIGAN, AS THE THREAT RAPIDLY SPREADS WESTWARD. DR. ALLEN KURTA AND HIS TEAM FROM EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY ARE LEADING A COALITION OF BIOLOGISTS, RESEARCHERS AND EXPERTS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY. THEY’RE GUIDING FELLOW BAT SPECIALISTS TO THE REMOTE REGIONS OF MICHIGAN IN A FRANTIC SEARCH FOR A METHOD TO SLOW DOWN, IF NOT ERADICATE, THE FUNGUS.>>PRETTY MUCH SINCE ABOUT 2008 WE’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR THE PRESENCE OF THE DISEASE. WE DID NOT FIND ANY EVIDENCE UNTIL 2014.>>JUST THIS SPRING, KURTA AND HIS COLLEAGUES FOUND SIGNS OF THE FUNGUS HERE AT TIPPY DAM IN NORTHWEST MICHIGAN, MAKING IT A NEWLY INFECTED SITE. THE FUNGUS THAT CAUSES WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME IS INSIDIOUS. IT CANNOT INFECT HUMANS, HOUSE PETS, OR LIVESTOCK. BUT IT KILLS NEARLY EVERY BAT IT INFECTS. THE FUNGUS ATTACKS THE EXPOSED SKIN ON THEIR NOSES, EARS AND WINGS. IRRITATED BY THE FUNGUS GROWING INTO THEIR SKIN, THE BATS AROUSE FROM HIBERNATION, AND THEN THEIR PROBLEMS REALLY BEGIN.>>NO HIBERNATING ANIMAL HIBERNATES THE ENTIRE WINTER THROUGH. THEY AROUSE PERIODICALLY. DOING THAT COSTS A LARGE AMOUNT OF ENERGY AND THE ONLY ENERGY THEY HAVE IS WHAT FAT THEY STORED DURING THE AUTUMN. INFECTED BATS ARE USING UP THEIR FAT MUCH MORE FREQUENTLY, AND IN INFECTED AREAS, THE BATS ARE RUNNING OUT COME FEBRUARY, COME MARCH AND THERE’S STILL A LOT OF SNOW ON THE GROUND. THERE ARE NO FLYING INSECTS, SO THERE IS NO FOOD. THE BATS ARE DYING OF STARVATION AND OTHER COMPLICATIONS.>>JOSEPH HOYT, A GRADUATE STUDENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ, IS BRAVING A GREAT LAKES WINTER AS PART OF THE MICHIGAN-LED COALITION. IN THE ABANDONED COPPER AND IRON MINES OF MICHIGAN’S REMOTE UPPER PENINSULA, HOYT IS SPEAR-HEADING A NOVEL STUDY TO DETERMINE HOW DIFFERENT SPECIES OF BATS MIGHT SPREAD WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME BETWEEN EACH OTHER.>>WE’RE STUDYING THE CONTACT PATTERNS OF BATS, UM, AND THE WAY THAT WE DO THIS IS BY USING A FLUORESCENT, TRACEABLE DUST. THE DUST IS APPLIED TO THE BATS AT THE BEGINNING OF HIBERNATION. WE THEN RETURN AT THE END OF HIBERNATION AND WE CAN TRACE THAT DUST THROUGH THE COLONIES OF BATS. AS WE KIND OF MOVE INTO THE WESTERN U.S., I THINK AS MUCH INFORMATION ON WHICH SPECIES ARE KIND OF IMPORTANT–PLAYING IMPORTANT ROLES IN TRANSMITTING WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME WILL BE HELPFUL IN DETERMINING KIND OF WHERE FUTURE MANAGEMENT WILL HAPPEN AND DEFINITELY DEPLOYING, FUTURE CONTROL AGENTS.>>AND THAT BRINGS US BACK TO DR. VONHOF.>>CAN WE CONTROL WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME? I THINK THAT, FOR US, IS THE HOLY GRAIL FOR ANYBODY INTERESTED IN THE CONSERVATION OF BATS.>>WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME WAS FIRST DISCOVERED 9 YEARS AGO, BUT NO PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE IN SLOWING DOWN THE DISEASE, OR LIMITING ITS EFFECT. SO VONHOF HAS TURNED TO AN UNLIKELY AND NATURAL SOURCE OF INSPIRATION.>>CHITOSAN OCCURS NATURALLY IN THE HARD BODIES, THE EXO-SKELETONS, OF ARTHROPODS, AND THAT INCLUDES INSECTS, AND IT INCLUDES CRUSTACEANS SUCH AS SHRIMP, AND CRABS, AND LOBSTER. IT’S COMPLETELY BIODEGRADABLE, BIOCOMPATIBLE. IT ALSO HAS A VERY IMPORTANT FUNCTION IN WOUND HEALING. WE KNOW FROM OUR OWN LAB TESTS THAT IF WE GROW THE FUNGUS THAT CAUSES WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME IN A PLATE THAT CONTAINS CHITOSAN, WE ALMOST COMPLETELY INHIBIT ITS GERMINATION, AND IF IT HAS ALREADY GERMINATED, WE INHIBIT ITS GROWTH BY APPROXIMATELY 84 PERCENT.>>ALTHOUGH CHITOSAN HAS BEEN SHOWN TO BE EFFECTIVE IN THE LAB, TRYING IT ON BATS IN THE FIELD IS STILL SOME TIME OFF. REGARDLESS OF WHEN FIELD TRIALS BEGIN, THE FIGHT AGAINST WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME ISN’T JUST PROFESSIONAL FOR THESE RESEARCHERS. IT’S PERSONAL.>>WITHIN THE NEXT THREE TO FIVE YEARS WE’RE GOING TO EXPECT 90 PERCENT OF OUR HIBERNATING BATS TO BE DEAD. 250 TO 300 THOUSAND BATS. THAT’S GOING TO BE VERY DIFFICULT. I’VE SPENT 35 YEARS WITH THESE ANIMALS AND IT WILL BE HARD, UM, NOT TO HAVE THEM AROUND.>>I GUESS WE’VE ALL HAD TO HARDEN OUR HEARTS A LITTLE BIT, YOU KNOW, AS SOMEBODY WHO LOVES BATS, WHO STUDIES BATS FOR HIS ENTIRE CAREER, YOU KNOW, IT’S DEVASTATING. ABSOLUTELY DEVASTATING.>>TODAY’S SCIENTISTS ESTIMATE THAT THERE ARE ABOUT 1.5 MILLION SPECIES OF FUNGI ON THE EARTH. WHILE SOME MEMBERS OF THE FUNGUS FAMILY ARE TOTAL BUMMERS, ALL OF THEM TOGETHER PERFORM PERHAPS THE MOST VITAL FUNCTION IN THE GLOBAL FOOD WEB. THEY FEAST ON THE DECEASED REMAINS OF ALMOST ALL ORGANISMS ON THE PLANET. AND BY DOING THAT, THEY CONVERT THE ORGANIC MATTER THAT WE’RE ALL MADE OF BACK INTO SOIL FROM WHICH NEW LIFE WILL SPRING. SO FUNGI, THEY THRIVE ON DEATH AND IN THE PROCESS, MAKE ALL LIFE POSSIBLE.>>HUNTING DOESN’T ALWAYS HAVE TO MEAN KILLING. SOME TROPHIES ARE WAITING TO BE FOUND IF YOU KNOW WHERE TO LOOK. BUT THERE ARE COLLECTORS WILLING TO BREAK THE RULES, EVEN WHEN IT MEANS PUTTING ANIMALS AT RISK.>>IT’S MID-MORNING IN THE BACKCOUNTRY OF CENTRAL OREGON.>>I CAN SEE IT.>>WHERE?>>WHAT? YOU TELL ME WHEN YOU SEE IT.>>TROY CAPPS AND HIS FAMILY ARE ON A MISSION.>>YOU GOT IT!>>THEY’RE SEARCHING FOR ANTLERS.>>IT’S JUST EXCITEMENT, I GUESS, OF BEING OUT THERE AND, YOU KNOW, WALKING AROUND AND WHEN YOU FIND ONE, REALIZING THAT YOU’RE STANDING RIGHT THERE AT THE MOMENT THAT DEER DROPPED ITS ANTLERS. IT’S PRETTY EXCITING TO KNOW: YOU KNOW, IT WAS RIGHT HERE, AND I FOUND IT. WELL THAT’S WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR RIGHT THERE.>>DEER AND ELK NATURALLY SHED THEIR ANTLERS EVERY YEAR. IT’S KIND OF LIKE WHEN A CHILD LOSES A BABY TOOTH.>>CALL THERESA. YOU GOTTA TELL HER.>>FOUND ONE!>>THE SPORT OF SEARCHING FOR THEM IS CALLED SHED HUNTING. BUT NOT EVERYONE IS AS ETHICAL AS THE CAPPS’ FAMILY.>>HUNTING FOR ANTLERS CAN SEEM LIKE A HARMLESS, FUN GAME. BUT THERE’S AN UGLY SIDE. SHED HUNTING IS ILLEGAL WHEN PEOPLE TRESPASS ONTO PRIVATE PROPERTY OR PROTECTED AREAS. WHEN NOBODY IS WATCHING SOME PEOPLE WILL CHASE ELK ON FOOT OR WITH ATVS. THE STRESS OF BEING CHASED CAN MAKE ELK SHED THEIR ANTLERS PREMATURELY. IT CAN ALSO SPARK A STAMPEDE. AND STAMPEDING ELK CAN WIND UP SICK, INJURED OR DEAD. THIS KIND OF ACTIVITY PROMPTED CAPPS TO HELP START OREGON SHED HUNTERS. THE GROUP PROMOTES ETHICAL SHED HUNTING. NO CUTTING FENCES, NO DESTROYING HABITAT, NO HARASSING ANIMALS TO GET THEM TO DROP THEIR ANTLERS FASTER.>>OFFICIAL OREGON SHED HUNTER.>>I GUESS I AM.>>INDUCTEE.>>IT’S NOT BAD, HUH?>>THAT IS REALLY GOOD.>>TO BE OUT THERE ESPECIALLY WITH AN ATV TRYING TO CHASE YOU KNOW A DEER AROUND UNTIL IT DROPS. OR EVEN BEING OUT THERE, YOU KNOW, RUNNING AROUND. THAT’S JUST NOT HEALTHY FOR THEM, AND IT’S JUST NOT HEALTHY FOR THE SPORT.>>YOU’VE PROBABLY SEEN ANTLERS USED AS ART OR TO BUILD FURNITURE. HUNTERS CAN SELL ANTLERS FOR UP TO 35 DOLLARS A POUND. A PRIZED SET OF ANTLERS FROM A TROPHY ELK CAN BRING IN THOUSANDS.>>YOU KNOW, THE COMMERCIAL MARKET ON THESE–PEOPLE JUST LIKE HAVING THEM AROUND. SOME PEOPLE DO.>>WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER RICHARD MANN IS ON THE WATCH FOR ILLEGAL SHED HUNTING IN CENTRAL WASHINGTON. HE SAYS IT’S ESPECIALLY CRUEL. ILLEGAL SHED HUNTERS CHASE ELK WHEN THE ANIMALS ARE AT THEIR MOST VULNERABLE.>>THEY’RE IN POOR BODY CONDITION, NOT A LOT OF FAT LEFT, SO IF THEY’RE MADE TO RUN, THEY’RE STRESSED. IT PUTS THEM IN A CONDITION WHERE THEY MAY NOT FALL DEAD WHEN YOU’RE LOOKING AT THEM RIGHT THEN, BUT UP TO A DAY OR TWO AFTER THAT STRESS HAS OCCURRED IT HAS AN IMPACT ON THEM. AND WE LOSE ELK, THEY DIE BECAUSE OF IT.>>IF CAUGHT IN A CLOSED WINTERING AREA, ILLEGAL SHED HUNTERS GET A TRESPASSING TICKET. CITATIONS CAN BE AS STEEP AS $1,000. BUT THEY’RE USUALLY LOWER THAN THAT. IT IS LEGAL TO SEARCH FOR ANTLERS ALL YEAR, AS LONG AS THE PLACE YOU’RE LOOKING ISN’T CLOSED TO PROTECT ANIMALS.>>COME ON. GO ON. LET’S GO FOR A WALK.>>ONE NORTHWEST GROUP IS WORKING TO PROTECT ELK ON THEIR WINTERING GROUNDS. KYLE WINTON IS THE CO-FOUNDER OF EYES IN THE WOODS.>>WE’RE TAKING A CAMERA THAT WAS A PROBLEM CAMERA OUT IN THE FIELD, AND I’M TESTING IT TO SEE IF IT STILL CONTINUES TO FAIL.>>THE GROUP HIDES CAMERAS IN CLOSED AREAS. THEY’VE CAUGHT PEOPLE WITH ATVS, PEOPLE WITH DOGS, AND PEOPLE ON FOOT.>>SO NOW THIS ONE SHOULD START DOWNLOADING.>>WINTON SAYS ILLEGAL HUNTERS STOCKPILE ANTLERS THEY’VE COLLECTED ALL WINTER. THEN THEY CARRY THE ANTLERS OUT ONCE THE GATES OPEN.>>IT’S AMAZING HOW THEY CAN FIND THAT MANY IN A SHORT TIME, BUT HOW CAN YOU QUESTION EM, BECAUSE HOW CAN YOU PROVE IT? SO BY US BEING THERE, HOPEFULLY WE CAN CATCH THEM GOING INTO THOSE CATCHES.>>IT’S DAWN ON MAY FIRST. THIS IS THE OPENING DAY OF SHED HUNTING IN OAK CREEK WILDLIFE AREA OUTSIDE OF YAKIMA. THESE HUNTERS ARE PLAYING BY THE RULES — THEY’VE WAITED ALL WINTER. SOME CAMPED OUT ALL NIGHT TO BE AMONG THE FIRST TO ENTER. BY NOW, THE ELK HAVE MIGRATED INTO THE MOUNTAINS. THEY’RE SAFELY AWAY FROM THE RUCKUS.>>THAT’S ALL FOR NOW ON SCITECH CENTRAL. THANKS FOR WATCHING. JOIN US NEXT WEEK FOR MORE STORIES FROM THE FRONTIERS OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING, AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THIS STATION.

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