Meeting Abstract

S10-6  Thursday, Jan. 7 11:00  Analyses of bat ecomorphology at ontogenetic and macroevolutionary scales SANTANA, S.E.*; MILLER, K.E.; University of Washington; University of Washington

Ecomorphology focuses on understanding how anatomical and behavioral diversity result in differences in performance, ecology and fitness. In mammals, the determinate growth of the skeleton implies that bite performance should change throughout ontogeny until the feeding apparatus attains its adult size and morphology. Then, interspecific differences in adult phenotypes are expected to drive food resource partitioning and patterns of lineage diversification. Formal tests of these predictions are lacking for the majority of mammal groups, and thus our understanding of mammalian ecomorphology remains incomplete. By focusing on a fundamental measure of feeding performance, bite force, and capitalizing on the extraordinary morphological and dietary diversity of bats, we investigate how the intersection of ontogenetic and macroevolutionary changes in feeding performance may impact ecological diversity in these mammals. We integrate data on cranial morphology and bite force gathered through longitudinal studies of captive animals and cross-sectional studies of free-ranging individuals. We demonstrate that ontogenetic trajectories and evolutionary changes in bite force are highly dependent on changes in body and head size, but cranial morphology explains a large proportion of the interspecific variation in bite force upon accounting for size differences. While more research is needed to determine how ontogenetic changes in size and bite force specifically impact food resource use and fitness in bats, interspecific diversity in cranial morphology and bite performance closely match functional differences in diet. Altogether, these results provide support for linear ecomorphological relationships at ontogenetic and macroevolutionary scales in bats.