Lab updates: July 2019

At the end of May, Rachelle Adams and I finished teaching the course “Tropical Behavioral Ecology and Evolution” in Panama. Each student worked on an individual research project and also wrote a blog post about another student’s project.

Tropical Behavioral Ecology and Evolution, May 2019

In June, students Imran Razik, Bridget Brown, and David Girbino were joined by Cynthia Marroquin and Emma Kline. Simon Ripperger and Hanna Wesier also joined up with us from Germany. Dineilys Aparicio is helping us as an intern.

Team Vampire Summer 2019
Left to right: Dini, Bridget, Simon, Basti, Gerry, Imran, David, Cynthia, and Emma

Imran is continuing work on cooperative relationships in vampire bats by looking at variation in urinary oxytocin as a predictor of grooming and food-sharing. Bridget is studying if bats use olfaction to select roosting sites. David is looking at how “first impressions’ between vampire bats as strangers might predict their relationship development. He is also helping us look at individuality in the echolocation calls (a student project led by Amy Luo). Cynthia is looking at individual variation in metabolic rate in bats. Emma is looking at the effects of proximity loggers on bat behavior. Simon is tracking social networks in the wild. Hanna is testing a mobile bat-mounted ECG to measure heart rates.

Basti is continuing his work on sickness behavior in vampire bats. This week at the The Animal Behavior Society Meeting, he is giving a talk on Wednesday entitled Effects of sickness on social networks depend on the type of behaviour, measure, and relationship. His manuscript for this work is currently in revision for Journal of Animal Ecology. At this same meeting, I’m giving a talk on how vampire bats maintain their cooperative relationships from the lab to the field (Friday, after the lunch break).

Theresa Chen is in Switzerland working on cooperation in rats in Michael Taborsky’s lab.

A paper by Ivar Vleut, myself, and Rodrigo Medellin entitled Movement ecology of the carnivorous woolly false vampire bat (Chrotopterus auritus) in southern Mexico was recently accepted at PLOS One and should be out shortly.

Simon did some great work on developing sites for tracking social roosting and foraging networks. Check out this 30-second clip of some footage he took by staying up all night in a cattle pasture with an infrared video camera. It shows vampire bats competing with each other over wound sites on cattle.

Simon and I are finally in the process of publishing our work on developing new cooperative relationships (in review at PNAS), strengthening existing relationships, then tracking associations between previously captive bats released back into the wild (to be submitted this week). We used dynamic network analyses to look at how their captive relationships persisted and changed in the transition from the lab back to the wild.

This year we are studying a captive colony. Two of these were bats we captured in December 2015, studied in captivity from 2016-2017, released and studied in the wild in 2017, and now re-captured and being studied again in 2019! During this time, we have seen how these bat interact with more than 30 unfamiliar individuals over the course of about 17 months. Getting many repeated measures in the social or cooperative behavior of individuals across different contexts is key to understanding why some individuals are more ‘generous’ in their grooming and food-sharing.

To extend this work, I am writing an NSF grant with Ian Hamilton and Elizabeth Hobson.

About Gerry Carter

I study the behavioral, sensory, and social ecology of vampire bats. http://socialbat.org.
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