Meet some of the bats of Panama; I’m working specifically with Trachops cirrhosus, Lophostoma silvicolum, and Tonatia saurophila. Essentially I’m interested in figuring out who can learn to find new kinds of food from each other. This tells us how well individuals can respond to changes in their environment. It can also help us understand why similar species have very different diets. To do this, we train bats to fetch. The first step is to train a bat to fly to a speaker to get a food reward using a playback of a sound they are familiar with, like the song of male katydids or male túngara frogs. In the wild, these bats use these songs to hunt. We then train one bat to go to a speaker playing a completely novel sound that we’ve made up. This bat then becomes a demonstrator (some call them “teachers” but I prefer NOT to use this term as it implies that the bat is helping the other bat on purpose, which may not be the case) for naïve bats who have never been exposed to this sound before. We then watch to see how quickly our naïve bats can learn to go to the speaker just by observing the demonstrator. Turns out they learn pretty quickly!! You can read all about it in our paper in Science Advances.
Here are some pictures of some of the trained models I have worked with! (scroll over to see species names etc, or click on each image to enlarge)
Kendrick Lamar. One of our trained model Lophostoma silvicolum. They have the sweetest faces and sweetest dispositions of all the bats I’ve been fortunate enough to meet.
Macklemore Trachops cirrhosus
Lil Wayne, Lophostoma silvicolum , munching on a treat.
Tone Lōc Tonatia saurophila
Drake, another one of our trained models, enjoying a tasty katydid. YUM! (The reflective piece on his back is so we can tell him apart from our naive bat in the IR light)
And just to make everyone jealous, here are just some of the bats I’ve been so lucky to meet while working in the neotropics!!
For all you bat nerds out there…Not a bad catch in just a few short hours!
That face! Artibeus phaeotis
Mimon crenulatum saying cheese for the camera!
Lonchorhina aurita. Check out that nose leaf! Like all nose leaf bats, this nose is not for smelling but echolocating!!
Chiroderma villosum Look at that cute little pug face!
Noctilio leporinus This was a particular treat for me!! A gentle giant.
And these feet are the reason Noctilio is also known as the fishing bat! He uses these to trawl fish!
<Glossophoga soracina That tongue is always sticking out; it’s super long for feeding on sweet, sweet nectar.
Pteronotus parnellii Can you see why he’s called the moustached bat?
Holding hands with Thyroptera tricolor. These little suction cups are used to hang on inside furled leaves!!
Artibeus jamaicensis By far the most common bat here in Gamboa. And also the crankiest. I used to dream of catching this bat. USED TO.
Saccopteryx bilineata I’ve read so much about this bat – the males make a cologne in their wing sacs that consists of spit and urine and uses that to attract females!!! WHAT? They also sing!
Micronycteris microtus. He’s like a little mini-me version of Trachops!
Carollia perspicillata Also super common. What’s uncommon about this bat is that it’s orange! Normally they are chocolate brown.
Artibeus lituratus One of the biggest Artibeus species; a real handful – literally.
A happy little Myotis species.
How adorable is this little Myotis nigricans??
Vampire bats always look like they’re smiling!
Phyllostomus hastatus guarding his spot.