As I progress through my first quarter as an RA I find myself busy with writing grant proposals, trouble shooting equipment and diving into the black hole of literature on the subject of sensory ecology. There is never enough time or brain capacity for all those papers…
Aside from all that, I have been experimenting with some new methods for my future project. With the help of our awesome lab manager Abby, we have been taking bat heads and producing high quality scans of some of the sensory structures (nose leaves, ears, etc.). Recently, I have focused on scanning the nose leaves of some phyllostomid bats in our microCT scanner. Phyllostomids (Phyllostomidae), Neotropical leaf-nosed bats, are a wonderfully ecologically diverse group of bats of the Neotropics. Phyllostomids are unlike most bats in that they emit echolocation calls through their nasal cavity, not orally, and posses a conspicuous nose leaf on their nares (see first photo). Diet of various species consists of everything from insects, fruit, nectar, vertebrates and blood. Their sensory structures, such as ears and nose leaves, are diverse in size and shape. I am extremely interested in how the variation in morphology, the form of a structure, in this group of bats influences their ecology.
This is really great because I can get 3D models of the structures that I can use to look for differences between species!
Photo credit: Maël Dewynter
Check out it!