New paper: Primary productivity explains size variation across the Pallid bat’s western geographic range

Pallid bat skullWhy do some species have larger individuals in certain parts of their range?  In many animal species, body size tends to increase with latitude. This famous ecological pattern, known as Bergmann’s Rule, was originally thought to be an adaptation for heat conservation. However, several hypotheses have been proposed, such as resource availability, resistance to starvation, and heat dissipation. We evaluate which of these hypotheses best explain geographic size variation in the Pallid bat in our new paper (Kelly et al., in press). We also investigate potential consequences of size variation by testing whether skull shape (an indicator of bite performance) changes in tandem with size.

Our results suggest that primary productivity (a proxy for resource availability) and to a lesser extent, heat conservation, best explain size variation across the Pallid bat’s western range. We also found that larger individuals have cranial traits associated with greater bite force production. This may help explain why larger individuals tend to consume larger and harder prey. Our results suggest that resource availability is a major factor explaining size, morphology, and possibly feeding performance in a wide-ranging and omnivorous bat species.

NASBR 2017

We travelled to Knoxville for the 2017 North American Symposium for Bat Research! As always, we had a wonderful time presenting and discussing our work, and catching up with our fellow bat biologists. Here are some highlights of the meeting:

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Leith Miller presenting her poster on the evolution of noseleaves and ears in phyllostomid bats
Rochelle Kelly presenting her work on San Juan Island bats
Rochelle Kelly presenting her work on San Juan Island bats
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Rochelle wins the Titley Electronics award for her presentation!
Abbie presenting her work on the comparative anatomy and function of the jaw-opening muscle of bats
Abbie presenting her work on the comparative anatomy of bats’ jaw-opening muscle
Presenting on the relationship between plant scents and bat diets
Sharlene presenting on the relationship between plant scents and fruit bat diets
A great turnout at the diversity breakfast!
A great turnout at the diversity breakfast!
Latin American friends!
Latin American friends from 7 countries!

 

 

SICB 2016 Symposium

Our 2016 SICB Symposium A bigger picture: organismal function at the nexus of development, ecology, and evolution was a great success! Throughout the day, a stellar roster of 10 speakers led us through their diverse research and perspectives on the study of ontogenetic inertia and its role in vertebrate macroevolution. In a complementary session, held the day before the symposium, 8 graduate students and postdocs presented excellent talks on topics related to ontogeny, functional morphology and evolution. A talented group of 6 American Indian and Native Alaskan undergraduates, invited as part of our broader impacts, also had a productive and fun meeting with the guidance of their grad student mentors. All this was possible thanks to efforts with co-organizer Paul Gignac, a National Science Foundation award, and support from the SICB Divisions of Vertebrate Morphology and Comparative Biomechanics. Stay tuned for the products of this symposium in an upcoming issue of Integrative and Comparative Biology.

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Undergrads, grads, postdocs and a subset of our symposium speakers at the post-symposium dinner