Sharlene E. Santana
Associate Professor, University of Washington
Curator of Mammals, Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
"Why are bats so diverse? Integrating macroevolutionary and ecomorphological studies to understand the bat radiation"
Abstract: The adaptation to new diets is considered a major evolutionary driver of anatomical, behavioral and species diversity in mammals, but few quantitative studies have tested the impact of dietary evolution on morphological and species diversification across whole mammalian Orders. Bats are an ideal system to investigate this topic because they are exceptionally diverse in terms of number of species, skull morphology, diet, and sensory modalities used to locate food. In this talk, I will present two major areas of research in my lab that have allowed us to understand the patterns and mechanisms of bat diversification: analyses of cranial macroevolution across the bat radiation, and the coevolution between fruit bats and their mutualistic plants. These studies will highlight how a combination of sensory and dietary functions shaped the evolution of bat skull diversity through the modification of intrinsic mechanisms and functional adaptation, as well as the importance of bat sensory biases as agents of evolutionary change on their food resources.
Host: OEB Graduate Students