Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Major Professor

Gary F. McCracken

Committee Members

Gordon Burghardt, Alison Boyer, Emma Willcox


Predation is one of the main drivers changing animal populations and communities, as well as playing a key role in animal behavior and ultimately on the evolutionary processes of the species. Pressure from lethal and non-lethal predation has profound consequences on the life-history of animals, and studying the mechanisms under which predation operates is fundamental to understanding many natural processes and their implication on the survival and conservation of species. I used two different bat species as study systems to understand three main questions. How do prey detect and discriminate predators? Which behaviors do prey use for predator avoidance? And, what is the cost of antipredator behaviors for communication and sociality? Using the Spix’s disk-winged bat (Thyroptera tricolor), I documented the first interspecific echolocation call recognition in bats in the context of predator-prey interaction. When predator calls are detected, bats display antipredator behaviors that disrupt social communication and social cohesion. Additionally, I showed that the tent-making bat (Dermanura watsoni) uses auditory cues as the first filter to rate predation risk and, with escalating risk of predation, visual and physical cues play a vital role in antipredation behavior. Finally, I reviewed how wild animals perceive humans as predators and the impacts of nature-based tourism on bats. These impacts may occur mainly at bat roosts during the daytime, having significant consequences on key moments in life history traits involving vigilance, sleep and social behaviors.

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