Sharon M. Swartz and Justine J. Allen
Understanding the evolution of bat flight behavior and explaining the diversity in the structure of their wings requires examination of the functional organization and mechanical properties of wing tissues. In-depth structural analyses that consider multiple levels of organization can complement phylogenetically-based comparative analyses, even if they do not sample a large number of taxa. In this chapter, we discuss recent research on the functional biology of bat flight and wing structure that has used phyllostomids as study taxa, with attention to skin morphology, muscle function kinematics, and aerodynamics. We discuss how understanding the hierarchical structure of the architecture of wing tissues, particularly intramembranous muscle, elastin fiber bundles, and collagenous structures, can provide a window into the functional dynamics of phyllostomid wings. We offer thoughts concerning differences in wing structure and flight capabilities among phyllostomids and other groups of bats, and propose future research to explore these subjects in greater depth.