News Round-Up

DNA in fringe-lipped bat poop reveals unexpected eating habits


Poop is full of secrets. For scientists, digging into faeces provides insights into animal diets and is particularly useful for understanding nocturnal or rare species. When animals eat, prey DNA travels all the way through animal digestive tracts and comes out again. Poop contains very precise information about the prey species consumed. At the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), a team explored the eating habits of the fringe-lipped bat (Trachops cirrhosus) by examining its poop.

Bats hunt at night. This makes it challenging to observe their foraging behaviour in nature. Analysing DNA traces in bat guano offers a more specific way to explore how bats feed in the wild and to study how bat behaviour changes depending on their eating habits. MORE

Header image: Hypothesised approach of a sleeping white-necked jacobin, Florisuga mellivora, by the fringe-lipped bat (Trachops cirrhosus). Credit: Amy Koehler.