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Matching Morphology and Diet in the Disc-Winged Bat Thyroptera Tricolor (Chiroptera)


Dechmann, Dina K N; Safi, Kamran; Vonhof, Maarten J (2006). Matching Morphology and Diet in the Disc-Winged Bat Thyroptera Tricolor (Chiroptera). Journal of Mammalogy, 87(5):1013-1019.

Abstract

The dietary niche and morphological adaptations of a species should be highly correlated. However, conflicting selective pressures may make predictions about diet difficult without additional knowledge of a species' life history. We tested the reliability of predicting a bat's diet from its wing morphology using data for Spix's disk-winged bat (Thyroptera tricolor). The species had been predicted to fall within either the aerial hawking or gleaning foraging group. We compared the results of a theoretical (canonical discriminant function analysis of morphology) and an applied (analysis of droppings) method of diet determination. Our results place T. tricolor in the gleaning functional group with a 77% probability according to morphology. Correspondingly, a large proportion of the diverse diet consisted of nonflying prey, such as spiders, insect larvae, and other silent prey, which should be difficult to detect using echolocation. Although some flying prey were taken, it is clear that T. tricolor regularly gleans prey from surfaces, indicating that for this species, morphology is a useful indicator of diet. However, the breadth of the diet; the high proportion of jumping spiders, leafhoppers, and insect larvae; and the extremely small size of prey were unique features of the diet that could not be predicted from morphology alone. Thus, although comparative statistical methods and the analysis of wing morphology may be helpful to predict the general ecological niche, only detailed investigation of the life history may yield the detail needed for understanding the link between morphology and ecology of individual species

Abstract

The dietary niche and morphological adaptations of a species should be highly correlated. However, conflicting selective pressures may make predictions about diet difficult without additional knowledge of a species' life history. We tested the reliability of predicting a bat's diet from its wing morphology using data for Spix's disk-winged bat (Thyroptera tricolor). The species had been predicted to fall within either the aerial hawking or gleaning foraging group. We compared the results of a theoretical (canonical discriminant function analysis of morphology) and an applied (analysis of droppings) method of diet determination. Our results place T. tricolor in the gleaning functional group with a 77% probability according to morphology. Correspondingly, a large proportion of the diverse diet consisted of nonflying prey, such as spiders, insect larvae, and other silent prey, which should be difficult to detect using echolocation. Although some flying prey were taken, it is clear that T. tricolor regularly gleans prey from surfaces, indicating that for this species, morphology is a useful indicator of diet. However, the breadth of the diet; the high proportion of jumping spiders, leafhoppers, and insect larvae; and the extremely small size of prey were unique features of the diet that could not be predicted from morphology alone. Thus, although comparative statistical methods and the analysis of wing morphology may be helpful to predict the general ecological niche, only detailed investigation of the life history may yield the detail needed for understanding the link between morphology and ecology of individual species

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:National licences > 142-005
Dewey Decimal Classification:560 Fossils & prehistoric life
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Physical Sciences > Ecology
Life Sciences > Animal Science and Zoology
Life Sciences > Genetics
Physical Sciences > Nature and Landscape Conservation
Language:English
Date:1 October 2006
Deposited On:02 Nov 2018 07:19
Last Modified:15 Apr 2021 14:51
Publisher:American Society of Mammalogists
ISSN:0022-2372
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1644/05-mamm-a-424r2.1

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