Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Biology (M.S.)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Amy L. Russell

Second Advisor

Charlyn G. Partridge

Third Advisor

Gerald S. Wilkinson

Academic Year



Bats are the longest-lived mammalian order relative to body mass, but questions remain about relationships among mechanisms related to aging. Relative telomere length (rTL) decreases with age in most mammals, but the relationship between age and rTL is highly variable among the few bat taxa studied to date. More recently, DNA methylation (DNAm), a type of epigenetic regulation in which methyl groups are added to cytosine-phosphate-guanine (CpG) sites across the genome, has been shown to be highly predictive of age in many species of bats. We examine the relationships among age, rTL, and DNAm in Pteropus pumilus and P. hypomelanus. We hypothesized (1) there is a negative linear relationship between age and rTL and (2) rTL is significantly correlated with DNAm at some sites (rTL-associated differentially methylated positions, or tDMPs), especially those associated with age. We found a significant negative linear relationship between age and rTL in P. hypomelanus, but no such relationship in P. pumilus. Additionally, for both species, few tDMPs were also significantly associated with age. Many genes near tDMPs in both species control regulatory and metabolic processes, suggesting that epigenetic regulation by DNAm of these genomic regions may have an impact on telomere length dynamics in bats.

Available for download on Monday, December 15, 2025

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