Effects of preservation on wing morphometry of the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus)

Authors

  • O. R. P. Bininda-Emonds,

    1. Vertebrate Morphology Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N. W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4
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  • A. P. Russell

    1. Vertebrate Morphology Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N. W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4
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Abstract

The effects of formalin fixation and subsequent alcohol preservation on various morphometric variables and their derivatives (lifting surface area, wingspan, mass, aspect ratio, wing loading and minimum power speed) and on the results of procedures that estimate lifting surface area of the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) are identified and quantified. Statisitical analysis demonstrates that the values of all of the examined morphometric variables depends upon the specimen type from which they are obtained (live animal; freshly killed specimen; immediately following formalin fixation; or after 36 weeks in alcohol). Over the short term, the choice of preservation fluid is ot important with respect to determination of the six variables studied. The fixation positin of the wing is an important factor in the determination of all variables except mass. Although originally suggested for study skins and not fluid-preserved specimens, ‘intermediate’ and ‘extended’ wing positions are demonstrably better than the conventional ‘compressed’ position. The estimation procedures of both Pirlot (1977) and Blood & McFarlane (1988) significantly underestimate analogous lifting surface areas determinedby tracing live bats. Smith & Starrett's (1979) procedure was found to yield accurate estimates occasionally: on live animals and preserved specimens with wings fixed in the extended position. Aldridge's (1988) method also yields accurate estimates of lifting surface area, but is limited to those museum specimens where the live or freshly-killed mass is known. Such conclusions permit recommendation of procedures that minimize changes arising through the fixation and preservation process in fluid-preserved museum specimens when compared to the live animal.

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