Role of ecology in shaping external nasal morphology in bats and implications for olfactory tracking

Autoři: Alyson F. Brokaw aff001;  Michael Smotherman aff001
Působiště autorů: Interdisciplinary Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, United States of America aff001;  Department of Biology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, United States of America aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 15(1)
Kategorie: Research Article


Many animals display morphological adaptations of the nose that improve their ability to detect and track odors. Bilateral odor sampling improves an animals’ ability to navigate using olfaction and increased separation of the nostrils facilitates olfactory source localization. Many bats use odors to find food and mates and bats display an elaborate diversity of facial features. Prior studies have quantified how variations in facial features correlate with echolocation and feeding ecology, but surprisingly none have asked whether bat noses might be adapted for olfactory tracking in flight. We predicted that bat species that rely upon odor cues while foraging would have greater nostril separation in support of olfactory tropotaxis. Using museum specimens, we measured the external nose and cranial morphology of 40 New World bat species. Diet had a significant effect on external nose morphology, but contrary to our predictions, insectivorous bats had the largest relative separation of nostrils, while nectar feeding species had the narrowest nostril widths. Furthermore, nasal echolocating bats had significantly narrower nostrils than oral emitting bats, reflecting a potential trade-off between sonar pulse emission and stereo-olfaction in those species. To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate the evolutionary interactions between olfaction and echolocation in shaping the external morphology of a facial feature using modern phylogenetic comparative methods. Future work pairing olfactory morphology with tracking behavior will provide more insight into how animals such as bats integrate olfactory information while foraging.

Klíčová slova:

Animal phylogenetics – Bats – Echolocation – Foraging – Fruit bats – Nose – Phylogenetics – principal component analysis


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