|Image caption: The northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) is a species facing catastrophic declines due to white-nose syndrome.|
Reproductive ecology of bats
Dr. Bettina Francis, Animal Biology
I study the reproductive ecology of bats. There are over 1200 species of bats worldwide. Many of these species are at risk of extinction due to changes in their environments.
Bats may be especially sensitive to environmental change because they are long-lived animals with slow reproductive rates. Unlike other types of small mammals, females of most bat species give birth once a year to a single pup. Ecological factors that disrupt reproduction have the potential to heavily impact the viability of bat populations. I am interested in finding the factors that make a large impact on bat reproduction, which will provide clues on how to best manage bat habitats to support at-risk populations.
I am currently a PhD candidate in the lab of Bettina Francis in the Program in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology at the University of Illinois. For my PhD thesis, I am particularly interested in the impact of white-nose syndrome on reproduction in North American cave-hibernating bat species.
Fluctuations in temperature and precipitation affect the growth of bat pups (like this juvenile big brown bat – Eptesicus fuscus).
Graafian follicle in the ovary of a little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus). Little brown bat females ovulate only once a year. The Graafian follicle develops when the female mates in autumn, is stored all winter, and is ovulated in spring when the bat emerges from hibernation. I study the effects of white-nose syndrome on bats’ ability to store the follicle throughout winter.