Thomas H. Kunz
Department of Biology Boston University
Professor Kunz’s laboratory focuses on roosting behavior and ecology, physiological ecology, population dynamics, life-history evolution, and conservation biology of temperate and tropical bats. One aspect of our research examines the ecological role of bats in both natural and human-altered ecosystems. To facilitate these studies, he has pioneered the use of thermal infrared imaging to census large bat colonies, investigate roosting behavior, and to quantify the energetics of flight. He is also examining patterns of parental investment and the energetic costs of pregnancy and lactation. The latter studies involve measurements of field metabolic rates, time budgets, and direct observations of roosting and flying. Related areas of interest involve assessing intrinsic and extrinsic factors that influence postnatal growth rates, including the quality and quantity of food available to the mother, energy and nutrient quality and quantity of milk output of the mother, and characteristics of the maternity roost environment. He is also evaluating the roosting behavior and ecology of tropical species that modify leaves of epiphytes, palms, and other plants by chewing both primary and secondary veins so that leaves collapse downward, forming so-called tents. Most recently, he has begun to assess the impacts of wind energy development on bat populations using thermal imaging, the effects of environmental stressors on life-history characteristics based on assays to assess stress hormones and immune responses, the role of leptin in seasonal reproduction, chemical cues used in mate selection, and chemical cues used by plant-visiting bats for detecting suitable food resources.