Pollen movement by the bat Artibeus jamaicensis (Chiroptera) in an agricultural landscape in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
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Artibeus jamaicensis is a medium-sized frugivorous microchiropteran bat that complements its diet with nectar and pollen during the dry season. We investigated which species of pollen are carried by A. jamaicensis in order to determine its potential role as a plant pollinator in the northern Yucatan Peninsula. We collected pollen from the fur of 192 individuals throughout the year from April 2004 to March 2005. We recorded pollen from nine plant species of eight families and found five unidentified pollen types, with the highest pollen species richness recorded in June. A. jamaicensis moved pollen of Erythrina standleyana and Mimosa bahamensis, which have not hitherto been reported as visited by this species. The most abundant pollen in the samples was found to be that of three tree species: Ceiba pentandra, C. aesculifolia and Lysiloma latisiliquum. Very few samples contained pollen in the rainy season, when the bats fed mainly on fruits. A. jamaicensis can fly several kilometres among foraging locations and dispersed large amounts of pollen from tree species growing near cenotes as well as those not present at cenotes but occurring in other forest fragments, highlighting its importance as a pollen vector among forest fragments in the largely deforested landscape of the Yucatan Peninsula, helping to reduce the negative effects of forest fragmentation. Ceiba appears to benefit from the role of A. jamaicensis as a pollen vector, and the species play an important ecological role in the Yucatán landscape, supplying shade, nectar and fruit for wildlife.
KeywordsCeiba pentandra Cenotes Chiroptera Pastureland Pollinator
This study was funded by the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT 168790), Secretaría de Educación, México and the University of Aberdeen. We thank P. Vilchis, C. Gelati, E. Christie, J.M. Pech and many other field assistants for their invaluable help. Lilia Ruiz helped with editing the figure. Keith MacMillan and two anonymous reviewers made useful comments to the manuscript.
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