Evolution's Chimera: Bats and the Marvel of Evolutionary Adaptation

Evolution's Chimera: Bats and the Marvel of Evolutionary Adaptation

by David Jacobs


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In Greek mythology, the chimera was a hybrid monster made up of the parts of different animals. Bats look like they have the body of a mouse, the face of a gargoyle or fox, and the wings of a pterosaur, giving rise to this book’s title. Evolution’s Chimera describes the amazing physical and behavioral adaptations of bats, using them to illustrate the processes of natural evolution. Bats comprise a quarter of all mammals in the world and are the only mammals that can fly. They occupy every landmass and almost every habitat on Earth, except for the Antarctic, and make up the second-most diverse group of mammals on the planet, numbering more than 1,270 species. They are therefore ideal for the study of how evolution generates the diversity that is the most outstanding characteristic of life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781775822127
Publisher: University of Cape Town Press
Publication date: 11/01/2016
Pages: 164
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

David Jacobs is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town, focusing on the evolution of bats in his teaching and research. He holds the SARCHI Research Chair in Animal Evolution & Systematics funded by the Department of Science & Technology, administered by the National Research Foundation.

Table of Contents

List of figures viii

Preface x

Acknowledgements xi

Glossary of terms xii

Chapter 1 An introduction to evolution: sex is everything

Evolution by natural selection 2

Adaptation 3

Evolution and biodiversity 6

Dispersal, gene flow and random genetic drift 7

Geographic harriers 7

Climate change barriers 8

Founder effect and geographic barriers 8

Natural selection and geographic barriers 9

Stochastic (random) causes of divergence: The founder effect and random genetic drift 9

Adaptive and non-adaptive radiation 10

Natural selection and competition 13

Natural selection and predation 17

Evolutionary arms races 18

Sex is everything 20

Rate of evolution and antibiotic resistance 22

Evolution and speciation 24

Bats and evolution 25

Chapter 2 Why bats?

An introduction to the classification of bats 26

Bat diversity 27

Diversity in size 27

Diversity in diet 27

Adaptations for drinking blood 28

Adaptations for eating fish 29

Adaptations for eating frogs 30

Adaptations for drinking nectar 32

Adaptations for flight 34

Adaptations for increased surface area 36

Adaptations for reduced weight 37

Adaptations of wing shape 38

Echolocation: Adaptations for detecting objects in complete darkness 39

Determining the size of an object 40

Determining distance, direction and speed 44

Determining texture 45

Attenuation and absorption 45

Trade-off between resolution and detection range 46

Components of calls 46

Frequency-modulated (FM) components 46

Constant frequency (CF) components 48

Duty cycle 51

Low duty cycle (LDC) bats 51

High duty cycle (HDC) bats: Doppler-shift compensation 52

Changes in echolocation during a hunt 55

Chapter 3 DNA, flying primates and fossil cochleae: the origin of bats

DNA and trait evolution 58

Flying foxes 59

Physical changes and the inner ear 68

Chapter 4 The ghost of competition past revisited

Intraspecific competition 72

Interspecific competition 73

Character displacement 73

Divergence has occurred 75

Competition is responsible 75

A genetic basis for divergence 77

Interspecific competition and character displacement in bats 78

Competition for discrete frequency bands? 81

Chapter 5 Evolutionary arms races: bat echolocation, moth hearing, moth clicks and acoustic mimics

Co-evolution 87

Moth hearing-a co-evolved trait 88

The evolution of moth defences 89

Moth hearing 89

Moth ultrasonic clicks 94

Jamming 95

Startling clicks 97

Acoustic warning (aposematism) 98

What can variability in moth clicks tell us about the three explanations for moth elides? 100

Acoustic mimicry 103

Evolution of hat counter-measures to moth defences 104

Chapter 6 Lineage divergence in bats: harmonic hopping and communication

Lineage divergence within the same habitat 112

Sympatric speciation: harmonic hopping 113

Harmonics 113

Use of harmonics in CF-FM bat echolocation 113

Harmonic hopping 115

How ubiquitous is harmonic hopping? 118

Chapter 7 Research and conservation

Future research 125

Bats and humans 129

Direct impacts 129

Wind turbines 130

Impact of researchers 131

Conservation 133

A role for biologists? 133

Changing human behaviour 134

An appeal for bats 136

Bibliography 137

Index 147

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