Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Major

Biology, Ecology

Date of Defense

6-27-2016

Graduate Advisor

Nathan Muchhala, PhD.

Committee

Robert Marquis

Peter Stevens

Aimee Dunlap

Abstract

Plant-pollinator interactions are important because they determine the reproductive success of animal-pollinated plant species, and contribute to speciation in plants and to the maintenance of biodiversity in the ecosystems. Plants pollinated by bats possess unique characteristics to attract them in order to be successfully pollinated. Also, pollinator bats have evolved several adaptations to feed from nectar and pollen. It is important to register and study these interactions, but also to analyze which activities could threaten them, in order to conduct optimal management decisions for their conservation. Our study addressed two topics related to bat-plant interactions. The first chapter is about bat-plant interactions across a high biodiversity ecosystem, like the cloud forests of Ecuador, with an emphasis on the super-tongued bat species Anoura fistulata, a poorly studied species. And the second chapter is about the effect of artificial nectar feeders on bat-plant interactions also in an Ecuadorian cloud forest, a topic that has never been studied before. Regarding the first chapter, we described the diet of A. fistulata in a broader distribution range of the species, adding 13 new plant species to its known diet. We found that A. fistulata is the only visitor to the extremely long flowers of the species Centropogon nigricans and Marcgravia williamsii, whose nectar is inaccessible to other bat species with shorter tongues. However, A. fistulata does not have a more specialized diet than other nectar-bats, and it can occur in sites that lack long flower species. Finally, we found a geographic trait covariation between the tongue length of A. fistulata and the nectar depth of the species with the longest flower it consumes, supporting the geographic mosaic theory of coevolution. Regarding the second chapter, our results showed that there is an effect of artificial nectar feeders in the relative abundance of nectar bats, with closer areas to feeders presenting a higher bat relative abundance than further areas. However, in spite of this, the presence of feeders does not affect other aspects of bat-plant interactions, such as, pollen loads carried by bats or the flower visitation rate and breeding success of the bat-pollinated species Burmeistera glabrata.

Available for download on Monday, June 12, 2017

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