Studying Wild Bats with Small On-Board Sound and Movement Recorders

Post provided by LAURA STIDSHOLT

Releasing a female Greater mouse-eared bat with the tag in collaboration with Holger Goerlitz, Stefan Greif and Yossi Yovel. ©Stefan Greif

The way that bats acrobatically navigate and forage in complete darkness has grasped the interest of scientists since the 18th century. These seemingly exotic animals make up one in four mammalian species and play important roles in many ecosystems across the globe from rainforests to deserts. Yet, their elusive ways continue to fascinate and frighten people even today. Over the last 200 years, dedicated scientists have worked to uncover how bats hunt and navigate using only their voice and ears while flying at high speed in complete darkness. Still, the inaccessible lifestyle of these small, nocturnal fliers continues to challenge what we know about their activities in the wild.

Understanding the impact bats have on their ecosystems – for example how many insects a bat catches per night – has still not been directly measured. Most of our knowledge on the natural behaviour and foraging ecology is based on elaborate, but ground-based experiments carried out in the wild. These experiments generally track their behaviour using radio-telemetry, record snapshots of their emitted echolocation calls with microphones, or involve extensive observations. Continue reading

National Wildlife Day 2015

Happy National Wildlife Day everyone!

Today is 10th National Wildlife Day. As we have done for a few awareness days this year (Bats, Biodiversity and Bees so far) we are marking the day by highlighting some of our favourite Methods in Ecology and Evolution articles on the subject. Obviously ‘wildlife’ is a pretty big topic, so we have narrowed our focus (slightly) to monitoring wildlife (with one or two additional papers that we didn’t want to leave out).

This list is certainly not exhaustive and there are many more wonderful articles on these topics in the journal. You can see more of them on the Wiley Online Library.

If you would like to learn more about National Wildlife Day, you may wish to visit the organisation’s website, follow them on Twitter and Facebook or check out today’s hashtag: #NationalWildlifeDay.

Without further ado though, please enjoy our selection of Methods articles for National Wildlife Day:

Integrating Demographic Data

Our National Wildlife Day celebration begins with an article from our EURING Special Feature. Robert Robinson et al. present an approach which allows important demographic parameters to be identified, even if they are not measured directly, in ‘Integrating demographic data: towards a framework for monitoring wildlife populations at large spatial scales‘. Using their approach they were able to retrieve known demographic signals both within and across species and identify the demographic causes of population decline in Song Thrush and Lawping.

 

Continue reading

Advances in Phylogenetic Methods – The Applications Papers

Original Image ©PLOS One Phylogeny

Original Image ©PLOS One Phylogeny

Timed to coincide with Evolution 2015, we have released a new Virtual Issue on Phylogenetic Methods. All of the articles in this Virtual Issue will be freely available for a limited period.

On Friday, we gave some more information about the research articles in this Virtual Issue. In this post, we will be focusing on the Applications papers.

Applications papers introduce new tools for research, which provide practitioners with an important source of information and background on the tools they use. In this Virtual Issue we have highlighted the newest Applications papers that describe how phylogenetic methods are contributing to the fields of ecology and evolution. These include tools with aims as diverse as phylogenetic tree reconstruction and analysing phylogenetic diversity in communities. All Applications papers, not just those in the Virtual Issue, are free to access.

You can see a little more information on each of the Applications Papers below.

Continue reading

Issue 6.2

Issue 6.2 is now online!

The February issue of Methods is now online!

This month we have two applications articles. Both are free to access, no subscription required.

– NLMpy: A PYTHON software package for the creation of neutral landscape models (there are also two videos associated to this paper on our Youtube channel)

BAT an R package for the measurement and estimation of alpha and beta taxon, phylogenetic and functional diversity

There are also two OnlineOpen articles in this month’s issue. Power analysis for generalized linear mixed models in ecology and evolution, by Paul C. D. Johnson,Sarah J. E. Barry, Heather M. Ferguson and Pie Müller, focuses on why and how we use power analysis for GLMMs using simulations more than we should.

Our second Open Access article is also the source of our cover image, which shows the ciliate protist Paramecium caudatum (about 0.25 mm long). Protist species like this are commonly found in aquatic habitats and offer a unique study system to test ecological and evolutionary concepts. The protist was isolated from a natural pond and subsequently used for microcosm experiments, which have a long tradition in order to test ecological and evolutionary concepts.

In the accompanying review paper, Florian Altermatt et al. describe a wide range of available techniques to use this and many other protists species to conduct microcosm experiments. The review paper gives detailed protocols of available techniques with a focus on modern, high-frequency and high-throughput measurements, and outlines how such microcosm experiments may be used to address a wide range of questions.

This comprehensive guide to using protist microcosms as a model system in ecology and evolution in ‘Big answers from small worlds‘, which is available free of charge.
Photo © Regula Illi and Florian Altermatt.

To keep up to date with Methods newest content, have a look at our Accepted Articles and Early View articles, which will be included in forthcoming issues.