Leigh Kindler

Leigh Kindler

Class of: 2021

Internship: Bat Lab

Hi! My name is Leigh Kinsler. I majored in Behavioral Biology and minoring in Psychology. I do research in the Bat Lab on campus. Our research focuses on Eptesicus fuscus, commonly referred to as the big brown bat.

My Research Experience

I began research on campus over summer 2020 in the Bat Lab. I emailed my Behavioral Biology professors who put me in contact with our Research Program Coordinator. From there, I was connected with Brittney Boublil, a graduate student at Hopkins studying Psychological and Brain Sciences. Our research Principal Investigator (PI) is Dr. Moss, who oversees various research projects in the Bat Lab. Before discussing my research contributions, I will provide background information on the bats we work with.

Bats “see” the world through echolocation. The big brown bat senses its environment by emitting calls and listening to the information in returning echoes. There are various forms of echolocation calls, such as for detecting prey or for social communication. Bats are not static when echolocating, rather, they fly through a complex, 3D environment. In order to adapt behavior accordingly, bats integrate sensory information from both flight and echolocation. This helps bats to navigate, avoid obstacles, and capture prey.

Our lab focuses on the role of bat wing sensory hairs used in flight control and a goal oriented task, such as prey capture. These sensory hairs are much different than fur hairs. The sensory hairs are microscopic and tapered. We hypothesize that removal of sensory hairs from the bat’s wing and tail membranes will affect flight behavior and prey-capture performance. Specifically, we predict that when the sensory hairs are removed, there will be an increase in flight speed, wing beat frequency (how many times the bat beats ins wings/sec), time to contact, and decrease in task performance (such as capturing a tethered worm).

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