Do bats sniff out their roosts? Lessons for understanding the role of uncertainty in science

A common misunderstanding perpetuated in most grade schools is that science is about “facts”.  Contrary to popular belief, working scientists don’t talk much about facts. They talk about questions, hypotheses, models, and possible experiments. They say things like, “Here’s how you could really demonstrate that” or “Here’s what we found” more often than “These are … Continue reading Do bats sniff out their roosts? Lessons for understanding the role of uncertainty in science

Presentations at 2020 Animal Behavior Society Virtual Meeting

The Animal Behavior Society had its online conference as a virtual meeting this year. I loved it! The talks were pre-recorded, so they were better in quality than normal talks (no public-speaking practice or performance required). I could watch every talk on my own schedule without missing any, and if I started to lose focus … Continue reading Presentations at 2020 Animal Behavior Society Virtual Meeting

New paper: Sick vampire bats make fewer contact calls to their groupmates

PhD Student Basti Stockmaier published his last empirical dissertation chapter entitled "Immune-challenged vampire bats produce fewer contact calls" in Biology Letters. He also presented a poster today at a virtual conference entitled "How do pathogens and parasites affect behaviour?". I've posted a copy of the poster below. The work was also featured in the New … Continue reading New paper: Sick vampire bats make fewer contact calls to their groupmates

Creating a lab culture that encourages innovation

Postdoc Simon Ripperger gave a presentation at our virtual lab meeting this week on “design thinking and social innovation”. Innovation is a critical driver for the success of most organizations. Many large companies spend significant time and money trying to understand how to develop cultures and incentive structures that foster innovation. Companies like Google do … Continue reading Creating a lab culture that encourages innovation

New paper on bats using echolocation to identify each other

For echolocating bats, each bat is almost always producing biosonar pulses as it "looks" around. So when bats are flying or roosting in the same place, do they recognize the voices of all the bats nearby? Do they have an omnidirectional mental ‘image’ of who is around them at all times? https://youtu.be/3eFORbGoX_Y Here's a closeup … Continue reading New paper on bats using echolocation to identify each other

Gleaning bats that can detect motionless prey still prefer moving katydids

New paper: Geipel* I, Kernan* CE, Litterer AS, Carter GG, Page RA, ter Hofstede HM. 2020. Predation risks of signalling and searching: bats prefer katydids in motion in Biology Letters. When I was a kid, I would throw tiny pebbles or bits of wood in the air when bats were foraging, and the bats would often … Continue reading Gleaning bats that can detect motionless prey still prefer moving katydids

‘Next-generation’ sensor networks for small animals (and other news)

We have a new paper, "Thinking small: Next-generation sensor networks close the size gap in vertebrate biologging", out in the open-access journal PLOS Biology. Ohio State News did a great article summarizing the work. Congratulations to Bridget Brown, who successfully defended her MSc thesis, "Do bats use olfactory cues to find roosts?". Bridget is interested … Continue reading ‘Next-generation’ sensor networks for small animals (and other news)

New paper: how vampire bats form new food-sharing bonds.

We have a new paper out today in Current Biology and it is featured in the New York Times (pdf), National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Discover, Phys.org, Cosmos and I have two radio interviews tomorrow for NPR and BBC. Doing these media interviews has been a pleasant 'distraction' from the coronavirus pandemic which is days … Continue reading New paper: how vampire bats form new food-sharing bonds.

New paper: When sickness changes a social network, different kinds of social ties respond in different ways

This photo, taken under a bridge in Panama, shows two vampire bats. The bat on the left that looks clean and healthy; the one on the right is covered with bat flies and guano and looks to be having a bad day. Do vampire bats avoid groupmates that seem sick? It probably depends on the disease … Continue reading New paper: When sickness changes a social network, different kinds of social ties respond in different ways