Why bats matter when it comes to pollination

In their recently published article, Tremlett et al. call for greater management focus for wild bat pollinator populations due to the ecosystem services they provide for valuable crops. Here they share a video of bat feeding in action and explain a little more about their work.

*Update March 2020. The corresponding article to this video features as the Editor’s Choice for issue 57:03. Read Associate Editor, Michael Pocock’s summary of the importance of this research here.*

This video shows a bat in the Leptonycteris genus feeding from a Stenocereus queretaroensis flower, in a small plantation in Techaluta de Montenegro, Mexico. The first part of the video shows the bat feeding in real time, demonstrating the speed with which bats visit flowers. The second part of the video is the same clip slowed down, showing the feeding behaviour of the bat and why it is such a good pollinator of the pitaya crop. It puts its whole head right inside the flower, meaning it gets covered in lots of pollen, which it delivers very effectively to the next flower on it’s fur. This is why yield and quality improves with pollination by bats relative to either birds or insects. It’s important that the local community avoids the use of pesticides and protects bat roosts, to maintain bat populations and the pollination services they provide.

Read the corresponding article, Pollination by bats enhances both quality and yield of a major cash crop in Mexico, in Journal of Applied Ecology 

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