Elisabeth Kalko (1962-2011)
Address: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
9100 PANAMA CITY PL
Washington DC 20521-9100
Experimental Ecology (Bio III)
University of Ulm
Albert-Einstein Allee 11
Telephone: +507 272.2142
FAX: +507 272.3065
Tropical diversity; community ecology; sensory ecology; behavioral ecology; neuroethology; evolutionary biology; conservation; small mammals, particularly bats (Chiroptera).
In my research, I am integrating studies of physiology, behavior, ecology, and natural history of vertebrates with the ultimate goal of understanding the ecological and evolutionary patterns of their diversity. In particular, I have selected bats (Chiroptera) for the focus of my research. Among terrestrial vertebrates, bats are especially well-suited because they are distributed worldwide, highly speciose, and unsurpassed in ecological diversity among mammals. These characteristics are best manifested in tropical forests, where more than 100 species may coexist, and where bats have evolved a wide range of foraging strategies and diets. There, bats play indispensable roles by dispersing large quantities of seeds, pollinating flowers, and controlling insect populations.
Currently, my research is divided into four main areas: (1) case studies of bat species interacting with other organisms, (2) comparisons of behavior, physiology, and ecology of sympatric bat species, (3) comparative community studies, and (4) museum studies on taxonomy and systematics of bats.
In collaborative work, I am conducting field-based research in Panama, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Brazil, Ivory coast and Europe to describe and compare individual bat species and bat communities by combining both "bottom-up" and "top-down" approaches. Recent advances of observational technologies permit investigation of bat behavior that previously could not be addressed. I employ a mix of classical techniques (i. e., mistnetting) and novel technologies (i.e., miniature transmitters; transponders; ultrasound recording and analysis, infra-red filming) and apply them to both experimental and observational studies with the goal to link physiological characteristics of bats (design of echolocation calls, wing shape) with behavior (foraging strategy, habitat use, flight, social interactions) and to conduct comprehensive community inventories. Standardized protocols allow direct comparisons across sites.
The "bottom-up" approach endeavors to understand ecological and evolutionary patterns in bat communities by building on case studies of individual species and using those studies to make interspecific comparisons. Representative species are examined to see how bats are linked to critical resources such as food, roost sites, and habitats. Specifically, I am interested to find out how the bat’s use of its sensory systems (sound, smell, sight, touch) is coupled with differences in foraging strategies, diet, habitat choice, and morphology (i.e., wing shape) to affect its ability to exploit resources.
In the "top-down" approach I am comparing species assemblages of bats from different sites to identify biotic and abiotic factors that promote diversity and shape community composition of bats on local, regional, and ultimately global scales. Through its long history of bat research, BCI has become the site of the best-characterized tropical bat community worldwide. I am particularly interested in monitoring long-term dynamics in selected communities.
Education and Degrees
Masters 1987, University of Tübingen, Germany
PhD 1991, University of Tübingen, Germany
Habilitation 1999, University of Tübingen, Germany
Korine, Carmi, Kalko, Elisabeth K. V., and Herre, Edward Allen. 2000. "Fruit characteristics and factors affecting fruit removal in a Panamanian community of strangler figs." Oecologia 123(4): 560-568.
Kalko, Elisabeth K. V., Friemel, Dorothea, Handley, Charles O., Jr., and Schnitzler, Hans Ulrich. 1999. "Roosting and foraging behavior of two Neotropical gleaning bats, Tonatia silvicola and Trachops cirrhosus (Phyllostomidae)." Biotropica 31(2): 344-353.
Kalko, Elisabeth K.V., and Nill, Dietmar (photographer). 1999. "Jager der nacht." Terra 1: 54-65.
Kalko, Elisabeth K. V., and Condon, M. A. 1998. "Echolocation, olfaction and fruit display: How bats find fruit of Flagellichorous cucurbits." Functional Ecology 12(3): 364-372.
Kalko, Elisabeth K. V., Schnitzler, Hans Ulrich, Kaipf, Ingrid, and Grinnell, Alan D. 1998. "Echolocation and foraging behavior of the lesser bulldog bat, Noctilio albiventris: Preadaptations for piscivory?" Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 42(5): 305-319.
Kalko, Elisabeth K.V., and H.U., Schnitzler. 1998. "How echolocating bats approach and acquire food." In T.H. and Racey Kunz, P.A. (Ed.), Bats: phylogeny, morphology, echolocation, and conservation biology: 197-204. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Schnitzler, H.U., and Kalko, Elisabeth K.V. 1998. "How echolocating bats search and find food." In T.H. and Racey Kunz, P.A. (Ed.), Bats: phylogeny, morphology, echolocation, and conservation biology: 183-196. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Thies, Wibke, Kalko, Elisabeth K. V., and Schnitzler, Hans Ulrich. 1998. "The roles of echolocation and olfaction in two Neotropical fruit-eating bats, Carollia perspicillata and C. castanea, feeding on Piper." Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 42(6): 397-409.
Kalko EKV, Krull D, Handley CO, Schnitzler HU (1999) Roosting and foraging behavior of two Neotropical gleaning bats, Tonatia silvicola and Trachops cirrhosus (Phyllostomidae). Biotropica 31(2):344-353
Kalko EKV (1998) Organisation and diversity of tropical bat communities through space and time. Zoology 101:281-297
Kalko EKV, Condon M (1998) Echolocation, olfaction, and fruit display: how bats find fruit of flagellichorous cucurbits. Funct Ecol 12:364-372
Kalko EKV, Schnitzler HU (1998) How echolocating bats approach and acquire food. In: Kunz TH, Racey PA (eds) Bats: phylogeny, morphology, echolocation, and conservation biology. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, pp197-204