In my postdoctoral work, I am using dynamic headspace adsorption and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques combined with phylogenetic methods and behavioral experiments to study how the frugivorous Carollia bats use chemical signals sent by plants for the localization and selection of ripe Piper fruits.
Results from the first two parts of our project led us to predict that bats cue in on a general Piper scent, and then choose ripe fruits and particular species based on signals constituted by the most abundant and distinct volatiles. To test this prediction, we (Dr. Sharlene Santana, Leith Leiser-Miller and I) performed behavioral choice experiments. The results indicate that bats prefer unripe fruit spiked with chemicals that appear in larger concentrations in ripe fruit than in unripe fruit.
photo by Ada Kaliszewska