Skip to main content

Sensory ecology of the frog-eating bat, Trachops cirrhosus, from DNA metabarcoding and behavior

Cite this dataset

Jones, Patricia L et al. (2021). Sensory ecology of the frog-eating bat, Trachops cirrhosus, from DNA metabarcoding and behavior [Dataset]. Dryad.


Metabarcoding of prey DNA from fecal samples can be used to design behavioral experiments to study the foraging behavior and sensory ecology of predators. The frog-eating bat, Trachops cirrhosus, eavesdrops on the mating calls of its anuran prey. We captured wild T. cirrhosus and identified prey remains in the bats' fecal samples using DNA metabarcoding of two gene regions (CO1, 16S). Bats were preying on frogs previously unknown in their diet, such as species in the genus Pristimantis which occurred in 29% of T. cirrhosus samples. 23% of samples also contained DNA of Anolis lizards. We additionally report apparently rare predation events on hummingbirds and heterospecific bats. We used results from metabarcoding to design acoustic and 3D model stimuli to present to bats in behavioral experiments. We show predatory responses by T. cirrhosus to the calls of the frog Pristimantis taeniatus and to the rustling sounds of anoles moving through leaf-litter, as well as attacks on a stuffed hummingbird and a plastic anole model. The combination of species-specific dietary information from metabarcoding analyses with behavioral responses to prey cues provides a unique window into the foraging ecology of predators that are difficult to observe in the wild.


The combined_taxonomy_R file is DNA metabarcoding data from bat fecal samples to determine diet. It has been cleaned up (removed any sample with less than 10 reads) and includes the number of reads per sample per prey taxa. The data from both gene regions is shown in this sheet. The column titles list sample infomation. i.e. LsWeAdMaPLRJa.13S means a Lophostoma sylvicolum sample (Ls) collected during the wet season (We) from an adult (Ad) male (Ma) captured on Pipeline Road (PLR) and the bat number was Ja.13 (the S means the second sample from the same individual the same night). TcDrAdFeBCI05.09I is a Trachops cirrhosus (Tc) from the dry season (Dr) adult (Ad) female (Fe) from Barro Colorado Island (BCI) bat number 05.09 (9th bat in 2005) I means first capture (i.e. initial). 

The trachops_acoustic_behavior contains data on behavioral responses to prey cues from wild caught bats held for a few days in captivity.