Julie’s first publication from her dissertation, which went into Functional Ecology, is now available in the “Accepted Article” format here
Juliana Senawi, Daniela Schmieder, Bjorn Siemers, and Tigga Kingston (2015). Beyond size- morophological predictors of bite force in a diverse insectivorous bat assemblage from Malaysia. Functional Ecology DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12447
Here is the awesome “general public” summary that Julie put together for FE:
Julie gathering data in the field (looking very serious).
“Would you rather be bitten by a big dog or by a small dog? Neither, of course, but if you had to choose, which one would it be? According to researchers, bite force (bite strength) increases with size in most animals, so the small dog is likely the better bet! Previous research in South and Central America indicates this relationship holds in bats too – bigger bats bite harder than smaller bats. We wanted to test whether this was the case in Asian forests, where the bat fauna is equally diverse, but dominated by very different families of bats.
So how do we measure how hard an animal bites without losing any fingers? The bats were encouraged to bite a pair of metal plates hinged at one end by a transducer, which converts the pressure of the bite to a readable output of the force. We recorded the maximum bite force and measures of size (body mass, forearm length, head width, head height and head length) of 35 insect-eating bat species captured in Krau Wildlife Reserve, Malaysia. The bats ranged in size from 3 g to 200 g and belonged to 7 families. We also measured jaw features responsible for generating bite force using museum specimens of the same species, and used these to calculate the mechanical advantage (jaw effectiveness) adjusted by the size of the species.
So, did bigger bats bite harder? The answer was yes, but the relationship between size and bite force differed among the bat families. The effectiveness of the jaw (mechanical advantage) also played a role, regardless of the size of the bat. All 35 species of bats in this study eat insects in the same forest, so they have developed strategies to avoid competition. Having a different bite force than your neighbour may be one – while some species may focus on hard crunchy prey like beetles, others may specialize on softer fare like flying termites and moths.”