Field notes on weekend trip to Costa Rica (with disc-winged bats!)

Spix's disc-winged bat Thyroptera tricolor has suction cups (yes, suction cups) on its thumbs, and it uses these to cling to the smooth surface of young, furled Heliconia leaves. I’ve wanted to see a disc-winged bat since I was about ten years old, and I finally got to see them this week while visiting Gloriana … Continue reading Field notes on weekend trip to Costa Rica (with disc-winged bats!)

“Prepared learning” in bats

I had a brief discussion with someone at the International Behavioral Ecology meetings about evidence in bats for prepared learning--the phenomenon that animals learn some associations faster than others. More importantly, the notion here is that animals learn things faster when those lessons would be most common and necessary in the environments in which they evolved. … Continue reading “Prepared learning” in bats

An essay about caves and the origins of echolocation

Caves and the origins of echolocation Imagine that you are in a cave, a very familiar cave, but with no light. Do you think you could collect information about your location by shouting or clapping and listening to the echoes? Would a large chamber sound different than a tight passage? Sound ridiculous? Try this experiment. … Continue reading An essay about caves and the origins of echolocation

How bats respond to distress calls: mobbing? Or predator inspection?

New paper came out on responses of a tropical free-tailed bat to distress calls. The title is Distress Calls of a Fast-Flying Bat (Molossus molossus) Provoke Inspection Flights but Not Cooperative Mobbing. Here's the story behind the paper. A year ago, I took a great field course on animal communication sponsored by a collaboration between German … Continue reading How bats respond to distress calls: mobbing? Or predator inspection?

Crèches in bats and the ‘huddler’s dilemma’

This photo taken by Jerry Wilkinson shows a tight cluster of bat pups in Africa (Rhinolophus darlingi). Several species of bats leave their pups behind in tight clusters like this called crèches. The smaller image shows one adult female greater spear-nosed bat (Phyllostomus hastatus) left behind with several pups unrelated to her. Both these images … Continue reading Crèches in bats and the ‘huddler’s dilemma’

Acoustic-GPS pilot tests with frog-eating bats

I just arrived in Panama and I'm very excited to be here. I recently joined a collaboration between Rachel Page's lab in Gamboa, Panama and Yossi Yovel's lab in Tel Aviv Israel. Rachel studies the fringe-lipped or frog-eating bat, Trachops cirrhosus, a bat that eavesdrops on the mating signals of its prey, frogs and katydids. … Continue reading Acoustic-GPS pilot tests with frog-eating bats