The bat Microbiome
I've spent the last four years seeking to better understand how ecological and evolutionary factors structure the gut microbiome in wild vertebrates. My particular study focus has been bats, which make up 20% of all living mammals. My dissertation research produced new insights into the roles gut microbiomes play in dietary specialization, parasitism, and immunity in bats from Belize, Central America.
Check out my blog post in Ecology & Evolution: "Vampire bats have a 'gut reaction' to habitat destruction"
Natural History collections
The basic natural history and biology of so many species remains poorly described, and this is especially the case for small, nocturnal mammals such as bats. I believe in expanding natural history collections and reinventing the ways we use them to tap the limitless depths of biological knowledge. I have contributed over 250 specimens to the AMNH and have used the collections there to revise known localities for Eptesicus brasiliensis.
Read a note on using collections to identify species range limits in Ecología en Bolivia (en Español)
White Nose Syndrome
From 2014-2016, I studied the lipid biochemistry of bats impacted by White Nose Syndrome. I found that bat species resistant to WNS had elevated levels of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) compared to a highly susceptible species, suggesting that skin lipids offer a first line of defense for some North American bats against infection with the deadly fungus.
Read about this research in PLoS ONE