Bats Drawn to Plant via “Echo Beacon”

As you know, bats find their dinner by using echolocation. But not every bat goes for flying insects. There are bats that eat fruit and bats that enjoy nectar from plants. So, how do they find these delectable treats? Well, most of them use smell. But some use echolocation and some plants have adapted to make themselves easily located.
Cuban bat plant.jpg


It turns out that the Marcgravia evenia has leaves that act like satellite dishes!
In experiments, bats found a hidden feeder about 50 percent faster when the feeder was accompanied by the specialized M. evenia leaf than without. Attaching a regular leaf reduced bat search times by just 6 percent.
The researchers also studied the intensity and direction of simulated bat sonar reflecting from the M. evenia leaves. These results showed the echoes would sound the same to a bat at almost any angle, which should be “conspicuously constant to a passing bat,” the authors said in their paper, published July 29 in the journal Science.
M. evenia is rare and has a patchy distribution pattern in the wild, Simon said, so being able to attract bats from a distance is crucial for its survival.
“The bats have a large range and can bring pollen to specimens which are far apart,” he said.
Another neotropical plant, M. holtonii, signals bats via a specialized acoustical “mirror” inside its flowers.
Interestingly, the Pallas’s long-tongued bat, which was followed in the study, has the fastest metabolism ever recorded in any mammal – it is similar to that of a hummingbird.
Pallas's long-tongued bat.jpg
Links to check out:
National Geographic(origin of photo and most information)
Glossopedia
Bat Conservation International

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