Freetail bat at Frio Cave

Free-tailed bat at Frio Cave

My current research is focused on the behavioral ecology of animal migration. There is amazing diversity in the strategies animals have evolved to handle seasonal disruptions in resources such as food. I’m particularly interested in two very different model systems, bats and moths. They share two aspects; both are very challenging to study, especially during migration. And they are joined in a predator/prey relationship.

Bat migration is similar to its well-studied cousin, bird migration, but there are many important differences. Migration is very common in birds, but seems to be uncommon in bats, perhaps because bats can escape extreme conditions by hibernating, and birds do not. Bats also move shorter distances than birds, but there are a few species that move thousands of kilometers each direction. A larger number of bat species travel in the 100-500 km range, often between hibernacula and summer roosts; these are referred to as “intermediate-range” migrants. You can find lots more about bat migration in my book chapter.

Corn Earworms

Corn Earworms

Insects also perform spectacular migrations, but their movement is different from vertebrate migration in some fascinating ways. Many insect species extend each migratory cycle over multiple generations, but not necessarily in both directions. It appears that the migratory moths I study take several generations to move from Mexico to the northern US or Canada in the spring, but the last generation makes the whole return trip. Like birds and probably bats, the moths migrate hundreds of meters above ground at night. That’s where they likely interact, but it is very difficult to study that interaction directly.

I’m currently a postdoctoral scholar looking at behavior of intermediate-range migratory bats. My dissertation research was on a long-range migrant, Brazilian free-tailed bats, and the migratory moths they eat.


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Contact Jennifer:

My photos on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/batlove/
My San Francisco blog: http://bat-time.blogspot.com
Contact Jennifer via email

Jennifer's Twitter Feed

"Finalizing plans for our symposium on #insect #migration at the Denver meeting in November. Join us! @EntsocAmerica #entsoc17"
3 days ago
"Released the last of winter 2017 rescue #bats last night, fat on the last mealworms but she still flew well into the night sky. Fare well!"
13 days ago
"RT @RadarAndStuff: Bursts of bright pink are #bats emerging from hibernacula across South Carolina. Radar could be a good way of monitoring…"
18 days ago
"RT @Myrmecos: Wish more people realized that "uncertainty" in climate science also means warming could be worse than consensus estimates."
18 days ago
"RT @Birder_Katie: Radar is lit with #birds tonight!! Check your patches in the morning! #birding #birders #spring #migration https://t.co/3…"
32 days ago