Monthly Archives: January 2014

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Notes from the field: La Selva

Leith, Rochelle, and an adorable Ectopylla alba

La Selva has been a fascinating place to visit. While Rochelle and I both had impressions of what a tropical rainforest would be like, we were both amazed at the lush, complex habitat and the organismal diversity that goes along with it. For me, I learned an extensive amount, not only about the ecological dynamics in the wet rainforest, but also more about the diversity of bats. We had the wonderful opportunity to work with Dr. Gloriana Chaverri.  She gave us an opportunity to study the acoustic properties of neotropical bat distress calls, (primarily phyllostomids). Then, we conducted playback experiments to investigate the how surrounding bats (intraspecifics and interspecifics) respond to these calls . In addition to our research, we were also busy working with Day’s Edge Production to produce a short film portraying the story of our research experience at La Selva. Check out the link below to see our video!   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VU3Ss0NiPPw

The muscles behind the bite force: bat muscles in 3D

A lot of our current lab work has been focused on 3D modeling of the muscles involved in opening and closing the jaw in Neotropical leaf-nosed bats. We use iodine to stain cranial soft tissues, which enhances contrast before taking microCT scans of different bat species. This allows us to image the anatomy in great detail, and to study the muscle proportions and attachments in these very small mammals prior to dissecting the muscles. We can then segment out individual muscles and create 3D meshes that can be implemented in our bite force models! The slideshow below shows a raw, black-and-white coronal scan slice through the head of a frog-eating bat, Trachops cirrhosus, and several images of the reconstructed 3D jaw adductors.

 

Tropical Biology in Costa Rica

Leith and I just arrived in Costa Rica for a field course in Tropical biology with the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS). Our first stop is Palo Verde, a dry tropical forest that is a unique habitat.  Here with the Organization of Tropical Studies (OTS) course, we are observing an incredible diversity of wildlife from longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae), to the frog-eating bat, Trachops cirrhosus, to the Limpkin, Aramus guarauna. Drawing inspiration from this mega-diverse ecosystem, we are carrying out research projects, learning cutting edge research techniques, and squeezing a little time in for fun too.

If you would like to keep up with our progress visit our course website.  We upload a science minute podcast daily and blog about our progress overall on the course.

http://aiteots.wordpress.com/about/

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