Marco Tschapka's research while affiliated with Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and other places

Publications (189)

Article
Astroviruses (AstVs) infect numerous mammalian species including reservoirs such as bats. Peptides encoded by the genes of the highly polymorphic Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) form the first line of host defence against pathogens. Aside from direct involvement in mounting adaptive immune responses, MHC class II genes are hypothesized to re...
Article
Understanding drivers and monitoring changes of biodiversity forms the basis for evidence-based management and policy recommendations that aim to reduce biodiversity loss and to ensure the delivery of ecosystem services on which we rely. Ecoacoustic monitoring can be applied across large spatial and temporal scales, offering the potential for less...
Article
In this study, we report for the first time the use of the American oil palm (Elaeis oleifera) as roost by the Neotropical Pacific tent-making bat (Uroderma convexum). Palms with tent roosts consisting of modified leaves were found within the semi-deciduous lowland rainforest in Panama. We present detailed information on a new style of leaf modific...
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Intraspecific variation in floral traits, such as nectar, could lead to differences in the identity and pollinator effectiveness of visitors between populations of a flowering plant. We studied the bat-pollinated bromeliad species Pseudalcantarea viridiflora to determine whether there are differences in the identity of its pollinators and in its ne...
Article
Data papers and open databases have revolutionized contemporary science, as they provide the long‐needed incentive to collaborate in large international teams and make natural history information widely available. Nevertheless, most data papers focus on species occurrence or abundance, while interactions have received much less attention. To help f...
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Bat-pollinated flowers have to attract their pollinators in absence of light and therefore some species developed specialized echoic floral parts. These parts are usually concave shaped and act like acoustic retroreflectors making the flowers acoustically conspicuous to the bats. Acoustic plant specializations only have been described for two bat-p...
Article
Land-use intensification has contrasting effects on different ecosystem services, often leading to land-use conflicts. While multiple studies have demonstrated how landscape-scale strategies can minimise the trade-off between agricultural production and biodiversity conservation, little is known about which land-use strategies maximise the landscap...
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Aim The identification of the mechanisms determining spatial variation in biological diversity along elevational gradients is a central objective in ecology and biogeography. Here, we disentangle the direct and indirect effects of abiotic drivers (climatic conditions, and land use) and biotic drivers (vegetation structure and food resources) on fun...
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Many experiments have shown that biodiversity enhances ecosystem functioning. However, we have little understanding of how environmental heterogeneity shapes the effect of diversity on ecosystem functioning and to what extent this diversity effect is mediated by variation in species richness or species turnover. This knowledge is crucial to scaling...
Article
Given the current challenges of global change, e.g., through increasing temperatures and changes in habitat quality, it is essential to gain a better understanding of how species are linked to the conditions of their environment. Bats and birds fulfill crucial ecosystem functions as highly mobile long-distance seed dispersers, pollinators, and inse...
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Migratory animals live in a world of constant change. The whole-body ecosystem needs a strong adapting capacity to thrive despite the changes.
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Habitat alteration for agriculture can negatively affect wildlife physiology and health by decreasing diet diversity and increasing exposure to agrochemicals for animals foraging in altered landscapes. Such negative effects may be mediated by the disruption of the gut microbiota (termed dysbiosis), yet evidence for associations between habitat alte...
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en Levels of biodiversity are globally underestimated, especially in tropical ecosystems. This is particularly so for bats compared to other mammalian taxa, due to morphological conservatism. Here, we investigate West African bats of the Hipposideros caffer complex, an insectivorous bat group occurring throughout the Afrotropics. From samples colle...
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Land-use intensification is a major driver of biodiversity loss. However, understanding how different components of land use drive biodiversity loss requires the investigation of multiple trophic levels across spatial scales. Using data from 150 agricultural grasslands in central Europe, we assess the influence of multiple components of local-and l...
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Tropical ecosystems are currently degrading at unprecedented speed, mostly due to rapid human population growth. This affects the associated biodiversity, which frequently results in damage to or loss of ecosystem functions. Due to high species richness and ecological diversity, bats are essential ecosystem elements. Our objective was to determine...
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• Recently, network approaches have gained increasing popularity in studies of species interactions. These analyses provide important information about structural and functional organisation, as well as on the dynamics of species interactions. Common model systems for network studies include seed dispersal, pollination, and also parasite interactio...
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The filtering of gut microbial datasets to retain high prevalence taxa is often performed to identify a common core gut microbiome that may be important for host biological functions. However, prevalence thresholds used to identify a common core are highly variable, and it remains unclear how they affect diversity estimates and whether insights ste...
Article
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While phyllostomid bats show an impressive range of feeding habits, most of them emit highly similar echolocation calls. Due to the presence of an often prominent noseleaf, it has long been assumed that all phyllostomids emit echolocation calls exclusively through the nostrils rather than through the mouth. However, photo evidence documents also ph...
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As urbanization and intense forestry management are increasing, natural bat roosting opportunities, e.g. tree cavities, are constantly declining. A common management practice, especially in urban environments, is the installation of bat boxes. We assessed (1) abundance trends inside artificial bat boxes of the noctule bat (Nyctalus noctula) over 11...
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Background Ghana is one of the six bat diversity hotspots on the African continent, yet its caves have not been fully explored for the bats they host. Research Aims We aimed to assess the species composition and diversity of five caves in central Ghana and identified those needing immediate conservation attention. Methods Using mist-nets, we capt...
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Habitat loss for food production is a problem strongly affecting wildlife. However, some species may adapt their behavior and use these habitats, such as the neotropical nectar-feeding bats (Phyllostomidae: Glossophaginae) occurring in banana monocultures. We assessed the diet of the common nectar-feeding bat Glossophaga soricina, foraging in two h...
Article
Deforestation and the conversion of forests to agricultural areas lead to habitat loss and often create highly fragmented landscapes. Permeability and quality of the surrounding matrix determine the connectivity of remaining forest remnants. For mobile species, such as bats, the matrix is not necessarily an entirely insurmountable obstacle. We stud...
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Vertical stratification (VS) is a widespread phenomenon in plant and animal communities in forests and a key factor for structuring their species richness and biodiversity, particularly in tropical forests. The organisms composing forest communities adjust and shape the complex three-dimensional structure of their environment and inhabit a large va...
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As microbiome research moves away from model organisms to wildlife, new challenges for microbiome high-throughput sequencing arise caused by the variety of wildlife diets. High levels of contamination are commonly observed emanating from the host (mitochondria) or diet (chloroplast). Such high contamination levels affect the overall sequencing dept...
Article
Every day nectar-feeding animals face an energetic challenge during foraging: they must locate and select flowers that provide nectar with adequate amounts of sugar to cover their very high energy needs. To understand this decision-making process, it is crucial to know how accurately sugar concentration differences can be discriminated. In a contro...
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During the transition from parental care to independent life, the development of adequate foraging skills is a major challenge for many juvenile mammals. However, participating in their parents’ knowledge by applying social learning strategies might facilitate this task. For several mammals, communal foraging of adults and offspring is suggested to...
Preprint
Full-text available
Land-use intensification has contrasting effects on different ecosystem services, often leading to land-use conflicts. Multiple studies, especially within the ‘land-sharing versus land-sparing’ debate, have demonstrated how landscape-scale strategies can minimise the trade-off between agricultural production and biodiversity conservation. However,...
Article
Distress calls are known from a variety of animals and are defined as vocalisations emitted during extreme physical stress. Even though distress calls have been studied for a long time, their precise advantage for callers or the significance for receivers is still unclear. In this study, we describe distress calls of the nectarivorous bat Glossopha...
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Parasites represent a large fraction of the world's biodiversity. They control host population sizes and contribute to ecosystem functioning. However, surveys on species diversity rarely include parasitic species. Bats often present traits favoring parasite diversity, such as large home ranges, long life spans, and large colonies. The most conspicu...
Poster
Bats actively explore their environment and food resources using echolocation. Species of the highly diverse family of Neotropical leaf-nosed bats (Phyllostomidae) are characterized by a unique nose leaf that is assumed to play a role in shaping the echolocation beam emitted through the nostrils. Interestingly, recent studies have shown that some s...
Preprint
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Flowering plants have evolved an extraordinary variety of signaling traits to attract and guide their pollinators. Most flowers rely on visual and chemical signals, but some bat-pollinated plants have evolved reflective surfaces to acoustically guide echolocating bats. All known echo-acoustic flower signals rely on the same basic acoustic principle...
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How are ecological systems assembled? Identifying common structural patterns within complex networks of interacting species has been a major challenge in ecology, but researchers have focused primarily on single interaction types aggregating in space or time. Here, we shed light on the assembly rules of a multilayer network formed by frugivory and...
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The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is one of the most diverse genetic regions under pathogen-driven selection because of its central role in antigen binding and immunity. The highest MHC variability, both in terms of the number of individual alleles and gene copies, has so far been found in passerine birds; this is probably attributable to...
Article
Filtering relevant signals from noisy sensory input is a crucial challenge for animals [1, 2]. Many bats are acoustic specialists relying on sound to find prey. They discern salient acoustic signals from irrelevant background masking noise. It has long been considered a sensory impossibility for bats to use solely echolocation for the detection of...
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Most insectivorous bat species in the Neotropical family Phyllostomidae glean insects from ground, water or vegetation surfaces. They use similar and stereotypical echolocation calls that are generally very short (less than 1–3 ms), multi-harmonic and frequency-modulated (FM). By contrast, the common sword-nosed bat, Lonchorhina aurita, which has t...
Conference Paper
In this paper an advanced sensor node for animal tracking is proposed, which includes an accelerometer, an air pressure sensor as well as an electrocardiography sensor. The system is designed for studying the physiology and behavior of bats by inferring activity, wing beat frequency as well as heart rate. This system offers outstanding functionalit...
Article
The impact of Pleistocene climatic oscillations on tropical biomes is associated with changes in the extent of forest cover. Fruit bats have played a role in woodland dynamics via pollination and seed dispersal. We hypothesized that phylogeographic patterns of Rousettus on continental Africa and adjacent islands should show a signature of pluvial‐d...
Presentation
Neotropical flower-visiting bats (Phyllostomidae: Glossophaginae) face high energetic needs caused by a combination of an unfavorable body-surface-to-volume ratio, hovering flight. In addition with floral nectar being available only in small and spatially dispersed portions this should select for an efficient exploitation of their floral resources....
Article
In addition to breast milk, several mammals feed their offspring with primary food items. This provisioning can offer both energetic and informational benefits: young might use parentally provided food as a source of nutrients, but also as a valuable option to socially learn about adults’ food. For bats, there are only very few and partially anecdo...
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Agriculture and the exploitation of natural resources have transformed tropical mountain ecosystems across the world, and the consequences of these transformations for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning are largely unknown1–3. Conclusions that are derived from studies in non-mountainous areas are not suitable for predicting the effects of land-...
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Pollinators can be a limited resource and natural selection should favor differences in phenotypic characteristics to reduce competition among plants. Bats are important pollinators of many Neotropical plants, including the Bromeliaceae; however, the pre-pollination mechanisms for isolation among sympatric bat-pollinated bromeliads are unknown. Her...
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Background: Chiropterophily encompasses the floral traits by which bats are attracted as the main pollinators. Among the chiropterophilous flowering plants of the New World, Bromeliaceae is one of the most ecologically important families; however, information about the chiropterophilous interaction in this family is still scarce. Aims: We present a...
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While forest management strongly influences biodiversity, it remains unclear how the structural and compositional changes caused by management affect different community dimensions (e.g. richness, specialisation, abundance or completeness) and how this differs between taxa. We assessed the effects of nine forest features (representing stand structu...
Article
The tent-making bat hepatitis B virus (TBHBV) is a hepadnavirus closely related to human hepatitis B virus. The ecology of TBHBV is unclear. We show that it is widespread and highly diversified in Peters’ tent-making bats (Uroderma bilobatum) within Panama, while local prevalence varied significantly between sample sites, ranging from 0 to 14.3%. F...
Conference Paper
In this study, we present a method to classify sequences of bat calls into species categories. We formulated a fuzzy Multi-Instance Learning algorithm which first uses as Single-Instance classifiers, such as Random Forests or k-Nearest Neighbor, and consequently combines their outputs to estimate a sequence posterior probability. We also implemente...
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Trade-offs and synergies in the supply of forest ecosystem services are common but the drivers of these relationships are poorly understood. To guide management that seeks to promote multiple services, we investigated the relationships between 12 stand-level forest attributes, including structure, composition, heterogeneity and plant diversity, plu...
Preprint
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How are ecological systems assembled? Here, we aim to contribute to answering this question by harnessing the framework of a novel integrative hypothesis. We shed light on the assembly rules of a multilayer network formed by frugivory and nectarivory interactions between bats and plants in the Neotropics. Our results suggest that, at a large scale,...
Article
Litomosoides spp. (Nematoda: Filarioidea: Onchocercidae) are of great interest for understanding dynamics of zoonoses because of their similarity to human-infecting filariae (e.g., Onchocerca volvulus). We encountered Litomosoides microfilaria in blood samples from 7 Panamanian bat species. Species were identified through morphological analysis. We...
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1.Rapid growth of the world's human population has increased pressure on landscapes to deliver high levels of multiple ecosystem services, including food and fibre production, carbon storage, biodiversity conservation and recreation. However, we currently lack general principles describing how to achieve this landscape multifunctionality. 2.We comb...
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Species’ functional traits set the blueprint for pair-wise interactions in ecological networks. Yet, it is unknown to what extent the functional diversity of plant and animal communities controls network assembly along environmental gradients in real-world ecosystems. Here we address this question with a unique dataset of mutualistic bird–fruit, bi...