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Allometry of Litter Mass in Bats: Maternal Size, Wing Morphology, and Phylogeny

V. Hayssen, T. H. Kunz
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1382823 476-490 First published online: 17 May 1996


We examine how litter mass in bats varies with respect to wing loading, an important aerodynamic aspect of flight. From geometric proportions, litter mass should scale to wing loading by an exponent of three. Conversely, analysis of aerodynamic consequences of carrying extra mass suggests that an exponent significantly less than three would be selectively advantageous. Our results show that Megachiroptera and Microchiroptera differ in the relationship between litter mass and wing loading. Litter mass in megachiropterans scales as expected by geometric proportions, whereas litter mass in microchiropterans, as a group, and for individual families, scales as expected if aerodynamic consequences of flight influence litter mass more than size constraints. Thus, selection pressures on reproductive traits appear to differ between the two suborders of bats.

Key words
  • Chiroptera
  • wing loading
  • allometry
  • litter mass
  • reproductive strategy