Phenotypic Flexibility and Energy Demand: Insectivorous Bat Response Through the Summer Active Season

dc.contributor.advisorMcGuire, Liam P.
dc.contributor.committeeMemberKingston, Tigga
dc.contributor.committeeMemberPhillips, Caleb D.
dc.creatorSommers, Amie Sueann 2017
dc.description.abstractOrganisms face variation in energy demand throughout a life cycle. In response, they make reversible phenotypic changes in behavior, physiology, and morphology; collectively, this is called phenotypic flexibility. While phenotypic flexibility is a well-documented organismal response to variation in energetic demand, most studies are limited by two time-point comparisons. Phenotypic flexibility is relatively under-studied throughout seasons and among life-cycle events. Thus, my research questions address phenotypic flexibility in response to variation in energetic demand throughout a summer active season, relative to the impacts of intrinsic and extrinsic demands in a small, insectivorous bat. I studied a population Tadarida brasiliensis located in a maternity colony in Frio Cave in Uvalde county, Texas. These bats migrate north from Mexico to the southern portion of the United States for the summer active season, including reproduction. As flying, small-bodied, mammalian endotherms, temperate insectivorous bats incur relatively high energy demands compared to other organisms. During the summer active season, there are two main energetically demanding periods: reproduction (particularly lactation), and migration. To measure phenotypic flexibility, I examined variation in body composition (body mass, wet lean mass, individual organ masses) and foraging activity (via plasma metabolite analysis). I compared these data to known periods of high and low intrinsic energy demand through reproduction, and with extrinsic factors (e.g., local weather conditions). I found evidence that T. brasiliensis respond to variation in energetic demand throughout the season, and further, intrinsic demands may be a larger contributor to phenotypic change in this study system. This thesis contributes to the field of physiological ecology by validating technology that makes physiological techniques more accessible in the field, and further informing organismal response to changing intrinsic and extrinsic environmental energetic challenges.
dc.subjectPhenotypic flexibility
dc.subjectInsectivorous bats
dc.subjectEnergy demand
dc.titlePhenotypic Flexibility and Energy Demand: Insectivorous Bat Response Through the Summer Active Season
dc.type.materialtext Sciences Tech University of Science


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