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Pelage color of red bats Lasiurus borealis varies with body size:An image analysis of museum specimens

Andrew K.DAVIS  Steven B.CASTLEBERRY  
【摘要】:正 Mammalian pelage color can vary among individuals of many species, although this intraspecific variation is oftenoverlooked by researchers, perhaps because of its sometimes subtle nature and difficulty in assessing it quantitatively. Thus, suchvariation is rarely studied in mammals, and this is especially true within the order Chiroptera, where there has been very little empiricalresearch. We examined museum specimens of red bats (Lasiurus borealis, family Vespertilionidae) from Georgia, USA, todetermine the extent of sexual dimorphism in pelage color and to explore possible associations between body size and pelagecolor. We photographed 54 specimens under uniform lighting, and used an image analysis program to measure pelage hue on theuropatagium region, which is fully furred in members of the genus Lasiurus. Statistical analyses of pelage hue scores showedmales had significantly redder pelage than females when considered alone, but when examined together with effects of body sizeand collection year, sex was not significant, and collection year and body size were. More recent specimens tended to be less redthan older specimens, which might indicate a wearing of the buffy tips of hairs from older specimens, and smaller bats of bothsexes tended to be more red. These interesting findings are encouraging and we suggest that future explorations into intraspecificvariation in pelage color of bats using this or similar approaches are warranted to clarify the significance of the patterns. Thisstudy also demonstrated that care must be taken in analyses of mammalian pelage color from older museum skins, or at least thatresearchers must take into account the age of the specimens .

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