• Title Professor Emeritus of Biology
  • Education PhD, University of Kansas, 1971
  • Phone 617-353-2474
  • Area of Interest behavioral and physiological ecology, reproductive biology, evolution, and conservation biology of bats


My laboratory focuses on roosting behavior and ecology, physiological ecology, population dynamics, life-history evolution, and conservation biology of temperate and tropical bats. One aspect of our research examines the ecological role of bats in both natural and human-altered ecosystems. To facilitate these studies, we have pioneered the use of thermal infrared imaging to census large bat colonies, investigate roosting behavior, and to quantify the energetics of flight. We also are examining patterns of parental investment and the energetic costs of pregnancy and lactation. The latter studies involve measurements of field metabolic rates, time budgets, and direct observations of roosting and flying. Related areas of interest involve assessing intrinsic and extrinsic factors that influence postnatal growth rates, including the quality and quantity of food available to the mother, energy and nutrient quality and quantity of milk output of the mother, and characteristics of the maternity roost environment. We also are evaluating the roosting behavior and ecology of tropical species that modify leaves of epiphytes, palms, and other plants by chewing both primary and secondary veins so that leaves collapse downward, forming so-called tents. Most recently, we have begun to assess the impacts of wind energy development on bat populations using thermal imaging, the effects of environmental stressors on life-history characteristics based on assays to assess stress hormones and immune responses, the role of leptin in seasonal reproduction, chemical cues used in mate selection, and chemical cues used by plant-visiting bats for detecting suitable food resources.

Selected Publications

  • Frick WF, Reynolds DS, Kunz TH (2009) Influence of climate and reproductive timing on demography of little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus). Journal of Animal Ecology, 79:128-136.
  • Allen LC, Richardson CR, McCracken GF, Kunz TH (2010) Birth size and post-natal growth in cave-and bridge roosting Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis). Journal of Zoology (London), 280:8-16.
  • Bass MS, Finer M, Jenkins CN, Kreft H, Cisneros-Heredia DF, McCracken SF, Pitman NCA, English PH, Swing K, Villa G, DiFiore A, Voigt CC, Kunz TH (2010) Global conservation significance of Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park. PloSOne, 5 (1): e8767. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.l0008767.
  • Hristov NI, Betke M, Hirsh D, Bagchi A, Kunz TH (2010) Seasonal variation in colony size of Brazilian free-tailed bats at Carlsbad Cavern using thermal imaging. Journal of Mammalogy, 91:183-192.
  • Rex K, Czaczkes BI, Michener RH, Kunz TH, Voigt CC (2010) Specialization and omnivory in highly diverse mammalian assemblages. Ecoscience, 17:37-46.
  • Bowlin MS, Bisson I-A, Shamoun-Baranes J, Reichard JD, Sapir N, Marra P, Kunz TH, Wilcove DS, Hedenström A, Guglielmo CG, Åkesson S, Ramenofsky M, Wikelski M (2010) Grand challenges in migration biology. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 50:261-279.
  • Frick WF, Pollock JF, Hicks A, Langwig K, Reynolds DS, Turner G, Butchowski C, Kunz TH (2010) An emerging disease causes regional population collapse of a common North American bat species. Science, 329:679-682.
  • Reichard JD, Prajapati SI, Austad SN, Keller C, Kunz TH (2010) Thermal windows on Brazilian free-tailed bats facilitate thermoregulation during prolonged flight. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 50:358-370.

Courses Taught:

  • BI 303 Ecology
  • BI 415/615 Biology of Mammals
  • BI 512 Mammalian Ecology

View all profiles