Going Batty!


Wow! This has been a great summer, and I can’t believe the course is almost over. I’ve experienced and learned so much that it would be really hard to distill my thoughts into one post. Instead, here are some pics of bats :), courtesy of expert wildlife photographer Alex (of Los Banditos Photography).


This is Dermanura watsoni, one of many bats of Costa Rica known to roost under leaf tents. It’s a little tree-tent-engineer! We caught this little guy here in Las Cruces, during a bat workshop led by Dr. Gloriana Chaverri. After presenting on her fascinating research on social groups of Spix’s disc-winged bat (Thyroptera tricolor), Dr. Chaverri took us into the forest and taught us the proper ways to catch and identify bats. Here we are trying to determine if this bat is an adult or juvenile by checking the amount of cartilage still present between its finger joints:


Check out those blood vessels! The patagium (membrane between the body, arms, and fingers) contains a complex network of muscles, nerves, and blood vessels, and it has “wrinkles” that allow it to extend and stretch while in flight.

This workshop was especially important for me and Alex, because we wanted to collect some bat guano for our Las Cruces Independent Project (scroll down to see Andrea’s post on bat biogeochemistry). It turns out that bats are small and thus produce small “guanos”, so we spent the next couple of nights netting lots of bats with the help of Gloriana, Paula, Vilisa, Diana and more. We converted Diana, Vilisa, and Meredith’s back porch into a bat lab:

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Alex and I also searched Las Cruces for tree hollows that serve as bat roosts. We found 5 probable roosts and 1 confirmed, although we didn’t know it until we took a much closer look at the photo:

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It’s been a batty week at Las Cruces, but it’s not the first on this trip! As a parting note, I give you an Ectophylla alba from La Selva. Paula and I caught several (in like 20 minutes) near the labs. (Photo courtesy of Tim of Los Banditos Photography.)


Katie Stanchak

The Santana Lab, University of Washington Dept of Biology


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