Research: If It’s Free, Why Pass Up A Good Meal?

The Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus) is a large, predominantly insectivorous species found in the western United States and Mexico.  A fierce predator of scorpions and insects, previous research by my coauthors (W. Frick and P. Heady) discovered the species frequently visits flowering cacti during the spring.  Multiple lines of evidence demonstrated that much to their surprise, the Pallid Bat was a more effective pollinator than specialized nectivorous bat species such as Leptonycteris yerbabuenae.  This demonstrates a decoupling between specialization and the mutualistic benefits between plants and their pollinators. However, this did not illustrate to what degree the Pallid Bat benefits from consuming nectar when it is available during the spring.  We used stable isotopes to quantify what percentage of the Pallid Bat’s diet was composed of pollen or nectar versus insects at different times of the year.  The results from this comparative analysis showed that when it is available, Pallid Bats will consume considerable amounts of nectar in their diet even though they appear to be specialized for preying on scorpions and insects.

The pdf version of the entire article can be found here.

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