Category: Schvarzstein, Mara

The Effect of White Nose Syndrome on New York’s Bat Population

The 2022 Macaulay Honors College Bioblitz, allowed us the opportunity to participate in citizen science. While exploring Randalls island the Bat research scientists inspired great interest in the role bats play in New York’s ecosystem and how the threat of White Nose syndrome is affecting them. “White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a disease that affects hibernating bats and is caused by a fungus known as “PD”. It attacks the bare skin of bats while they’re hibernating in a relatively inactive state. As it grows, Pd causes changes in bats that make them become more active than usual and burn up fat they need to survive the winter. Since its discovery in 2007 WNS has been causing significant decline in the bat population. Our research looks at how New York has been affected by such and the quantitative effects of the disease.

Trend Analysis Study on Different Butterfly Populations in New York

Monarchs are highly abundant in NY and we observed several monarch butterflies during our time at the 2022 bio blitz. A variety of research points to bright colors being associated with a species being poisonous or dangerous (i.e. Monarch eating milkweed plant). We extrapolated on this knowledge and decided to conduct this study to see if colorful butterfly species would be more abundant than less colorful or cryptic butterflies. We compiled data into graphs of three different categories – Monarch butterflies were our control, colorful butterflies – were butterflies with more than 2 colors, and cryptic butterflies with 2 or fewer colors. One of the graphs we compiled lists the populations of 8 different species of butterflies from 2019 to 2022, graph 2 shows the percentages of butterflies over the total number of species, and graph 3 shows the portion of the population of butterflies as we placed them in three categories – colorful, cryptic, control. We were able to determine that the most common butterflies observed in the study were the Monarch, Painted Lady, and Cabbage White. The least observed butterflies were Pipevine swallowtail, Eastern tiger swallowtail, Zabulon Skipper, and Black Swallowtail. Our graphs suggest that the cryptic butterflies were on average more abundant than colorful butterflies, thus suggesting that our initial hypothesis had to be modified. Our research was a preliminary study and we hope to expand on this research in the future.