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Habitat diversity & bat activity in vineyards

Rochelle setting up bat acoustic monitoring equipment in a Napa Vineyard
Rochelle setting up bat acoustic monitoring equipment in a Napa Vineyard

For her undergraduate honors thesis, Rochelle studied bat activity in North Coast vineyards. Using acoustic equipment, she tested whether local or landscape-scale habitat diversity influenced vineyard bat activity. Rochelle and her colleagues found that local habitat diversity significantly increased overall bat activity, especially for two of the most common bat species detected (the Yuma myotis & Big brown bat).

These species are also known to consume agricultural pests. Thus, promoting their activity in agricultural landscape will not only benefit bats, but may also help suppress agricultural pests. Rochelle’s research was published last week in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems, and the Environment.

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Primate faces on Discover

uakariWhy do primates have such colorful and distinct faces? We have been trying to answer this question in a broad comparative context by integrating data on the two most likely drivers of primate facial diversity: sociality and ecology. A major challenge during this research has been to quantify the facial patterns in a way that is comparable across hundreds of primates species. So, we devised  a metric, “facial complexity”, which represents how many colors there are in a primate’s face. Much to my own surprise, the evolution of facial complexity seems to be tightly linked to social group size and species sympatry. This is usually a positive relationship (Neotropical primates are the oddball), indicating that differences in the number of colors in primate faces provide cues that might be used for species and/or individual recognition.

This research has been getting a lot of media coverage (I guess everyone likes monkeys!), and a new article in Discover magazine does an excellent job at decribing our complexity scale. Check it out:

http://discovermagazine.com/2013/march/7-monkey-face#.UTAFVPkS5sJ