Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version

May 2003


Published in Bat Ecology. Edited by Thomas H. Kunz and M. Brock Fenton. 2003. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. Pages 257–300. Copyright 2003 The University of Chicago Press. Used by permission.


The past several decades have seen the beginning of integration of discoveries in the ecology and morphology of bats into an ecomorphological whole that promises to be greater than the sum of its parts. However, achieving this integration is challenging. Each of the elements of this interdisciplinary field is, in itself, avast and complex subject. This book is a testament to the breadth and depth of ecological studies of bats. Morphological studies now extend be- yond descriptive anatomy in both outlook and method, and incorporate, for example, aspects of genetics, physiology, solid and fluid mechanics, and developmental biology. There is also greater awareness that a particular morphology embodies not only the requirements of present life but also an organism’s developmental and evolutionary history.

Studies that have identified patterns of association between morphology and behavior have provided a big-picture view of the ecomorphology of flight and feeding and serve as important foundations from which to generate new hypotheses about the function of morphological traits and factors that might have influenced bat evolution. There are many gaps in current knowledge about bat ecomorphological relationships, and many of the patterns of morphological differences and associated behaviors have yet to be experimentally tested or quantified. It is our hope that the approaches we have outlined in this chapter will aid in the design of future studies. Future field studies will continue to expand our knowledge of the ecology and behavior of bats in their natural environments, and experimental work and detailed kinematic studies can help test theories based on mechanics or fixed-wing aerodynamics. In cases where experiments are difficult to conduct on live animals, computer modeling provides anew tool with which to understand better the mechanical limitations imposed by morphology and to help identify functionally important morphological characters.

Species discussed: Antrozous pallidus,Artibeus jamaicensis, Artibeus lituratus, Carollia, Carollia perspicillata, Carollia castanea, Corynorhinus townsendi, Desmodus rotundus, Eptesicusfuscus, Hipposideros commersoni, Lasiurus cinereus, Lasiurus borealis, Leptonycteris curosoae, Macroglossus minimus, Melonycteris melanops, Myotis bechsteini, Myotis evotis, Myotis lucifugus, Myotis volans, Myotis yumanensis, Nyctalus noctula, Phyllostomus hastatus, Pipistrellus pipistrellus, Plecotus auritus, Pteronotus pamellii, Pteropus giganteus, Pteropus poliocephalus, Pteropus scapulatus, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, Rhinolophus hildebrant, Rhinplophus simulator, Syconycteris australis, Tadarida brasiliensis