Seasonal changes in the diets of migrant and non-migrant nectarivorous bats as revealed by carbon stable isotope analysis

Theodore H. Fleming, Robert A. Nuñez, Leonel da Silveira Lobo Sternberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

141 Scopus citations

Abstract

Three species of nectar-feeding bats migrate from tropical and subtropical Mexico into the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts during the spring and summer months. We examined geographic and seasonal changes in the diet of one migrant species, Leptonycteris curasoae, using carbon stable isotope techniques to determine the relative importance of C3 and CAM (Cactaceae, Agavaceae) plants in its diet. We also examined the diet of a non-migratory nectar-feeding bat, Glossophaga soricina, from southern Mexico using the same techniques. We found that L. curasoae feeds extensively or exclusively on CAM plants during migration and in the northern part of its range and feeds mostly on C3 plants in southern Mexico. This bat is a year-round resident on Baja California where it is a CAM specialist. The non-migrant G. soricina feeds mostly on C3 plants year-round. Phenological data suggest that certain species of columnar cacti and at least one group of paniculate Agaves on the Mexican mainland provide a spatio-temporally predictable nectar corridor along which nectarivorous bats may migrate in the spring and fall, respectively. Different flowering schedules of Agaves in Baja California appear to promote year-round dietary specialization and perhaps non-migratory behavior in nectar-feeding bats living there.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-75
Number of pages4
JournalOecologia
Volume94
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 1993

Keywords

  • Bats
  • Migration
  • Nectarivory
  • Stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

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