SOME OF OUR CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS...
Bats are responsible for dispersing seeds of many tropical plants, yet in doing so they may also help disperse propagules of beneficial fungi that live within the tissues of the fruits they consume. Our project seeks to understand how fungi may benefit from consumption by frugivorous bats, and the role that endophytic fungi may play in fruit-frugivore interactions. This project is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Priscila Chaverri and Dr. Rosaura Romero.
Our ongoing research demonstrates that individuals within social groups exhibit personalities in contact calling rates: while some group members are very quiet, others are more vocal. Experiments suggest that vocal individuals may be primarily responsible for maintaining group cohesion, and we seek to understand how this apparently costly vocal behavior can be maintained. Some of the people collaborating in this project include Dr. Maria Sagot, Dr. Adarli Romero, Dr. Yimen Araya-Ajoy, and Paula Iturralde-Pólit.
Social roles in communication networks
Fruit bats and endophytic fungi
Ecology and conservation of cave-roosting bats
This project is focused on research and protection of cave dwelling bats and cave ecosystems in the Brunca region, Costa Rica, an area known to harbor the most complex cave system in the country and the most diverse bat community. Another major component of this research is to understand the potential contribution of cave bats to stream nutrients. The project leader is Stanimira Deleva (Ph.D. student at the University of Costa Rica), and additional collaborators include members of Grupo Espeleológico Anthros, Dr. Andrea Vincent, Dr. Caroline Schöner, and Dr. Verena Pfahler. Check out our web page Brunca Bats.
Climate change and tropical montane bats
Global warming is affecting the distribution of many species, yet the underlying mechanisms that drive these changes are still poorly understood. This project seeks to understand how predicted changes in temperature and humidity will affect bat species that inhabit tropical montane forests, an ecosystem particularly vulnerable to global warming. We will study physiological and sensory responses of insectivorous bats, and model potential changes in species composition. The project leader is Paula Iturralde-Pólit (Ph.D. student at the University of Costa Rica), and we are collaborating with Dr. Holger Goerlitz, Dr. Hugo Hidalgo and Dr. Adarli Romero.
Artificial roosts and Neotropical bats
Habitat loss is a major problem for bats not only because they loose their sources of food, but also because they no longer have places to roost in. The situation is particularly problematic for species that use large trees as roost-sites, as these structures are not readily available even as forests grow back. Our project seeks to test several designs of artificial bat boxes, along with olfactory and acoustic cues, as a tool to facilitate colonization of forests that may lack sufficient roosting resources. The project's collaborators include Dr. Rachel Page and Dr. Michael Schöner of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Dynamics of roost entrance
Spix's disc-winged bats use tubular leaves of plants such as heliconias as roost sites. Their unique morphologies and behaviors have facilitated their use of this ubiquitous resource, among them suction cups in wrists and ankles that allow this species to roost facing up, not upside down like most species of bats. In this project we seek to understand the manouvers used by this species as they approach and enter roosts, and how their flight patterns may change when using different types of tubular structures. Our collaborators in this project include Dr. Joxerra Aihartza and Jose Pablo Barrantes, biology student at the University of Costa Rica.