Pollination - Merlin Tuttle's Bat Conservation

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The Commissaris's long-tongued bat (Glossophaga commissarisi) is a primary pollinator of the sea bean (Mucuna holtonii). Here it approaaches a "ripe" flower with its nose leaf aimed into the reflecrive "banner." Only flowers that present an echo-reflective, concave banner in an upright position, indicating a "ripe" (ready for pollination) flower, are approached. It typically makes at least one investigative approach prior to landing on a ready flower. Then it orients directly to the banner to land and locate the triggering slot that is between two petals called "wings" just below the banner. When the tongue enters the slot, two more paired petals that form the "keel" split apart, freeing the spring-loaded, curved stamens that fire pollen from anthers at the tips onto the triggering bat's rump. By putting the pollen onto the bat's rump, the flower avoids contaminating its pollen with any from other plant species the bat may have visited. Other species we observed applied their pollen to the bats' throat, forehead or wings. Each Mucuna flower fires only once, rewarding the bat with a generous amount of nectar. A typical bat lands, triggers the flower and leaves in a small fraction of a second, though some flowers fire slower than others. Bats also visit already fired flowers later in the evening after lessor amounts of necter have been replenished. Stages photographed include the initial inspection, the actual approach, a brief landing and triggering and departure, often with the tongue still extended and loose pollen flying. Occasionally, bats fight over inflorescences similar to hummingbirds. Pollination

MM80341111255168Central AmericaCommissaris's longtongued bat Glossophaga commissarisiCosta RicaFabaceaeLa SelvaMerlin Tuttle's Bat ConservationMucuna holtoniiNorth AmericaPhyllostomidaebatbat conservationcuteislandlegumemammalphotographypollinationrain forestsea beanwildlife photography