Common condition indices are no more effective than body mass for estimating fat stores in insectivorous bats

Liam McGuire, Lewis A Kelly, Dylan E Baloun, W Alice Boyle, Tina L Cheng, Jeff Clerc, Nathan W Fuller, Alexander R Gerson, Kristin A Jonasson, Elizabeth J Rogers, Amie S Sommers, Christopher G Guglielmo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Researchers often use simple body condition indices to estimate the relative size of fat stores in bats. Animals determined to be in better condition are assumed to be more successful and have higher fitness. The most common body condition indices (BCI) used in bat research are the ratio index (body mass divided by forearm length) or residual index (residuals of body mass-forearm length regression) of size-corrected body mass. We used data from previous and ongoing studies where body composition (fat mass and wet lean mass) was measured by quantitative magnetic resonance (QMR) to test basic assumptions of BCI, determine whether BCI is an effective proxy of fat mass, and whether other approaches could be more effective. Using data from 1471 individual measurements on 5 species, we found no support for the underlying assumption that, within species, bats with longer forearms weigh more than bats with shorter forearms. Intraspecific relationships between body mass and forearm length were
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1065-1071
JournalJournal of Mammalogy
StatePublished - Sep 3 2018

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