Bulletin of the National Speleological Society - ISSN 0146-9517
Volume 34 Number 2: 61-70 - April 1972

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Niche Specificity and Adaptability in Cave Bats
Robert E. Henshaw


Bats originated in the tropics. Their morphology is essentially unchanged today from the earliest Eocene fossil. Their behaviors also evolved in the tropics and are retained mostly unchanged in bats inhabiting temperate and subarctic regions. Niches may be best defined in terms of microclimate, principally temperature, evaporation of water, and light. Actual isolating mechanisms related to sound, olfaction, and social behavior have differentiated but are yet undescribed. Karyotypes of bats are very similar. Bats, then, appear to be an implastic order that is poorly capable of responding to large rapid changes in their environment such as are produced by man today.

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