Facultative nectarivory is a rare diet strategy in temperate-zone bat species, which almost universally retain ancestral insectivorous feeding habits. In 2005-2007, we discovered that the pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus), a common desert bat, routinely feeds on nectar in the bat-adapted flowers of the cardon cactus (Pachycereus pringleii) in Baja California, Mexico. We study the ecology and evolution of this novel foraging behavior and compare the habits of this facultative nectar-feeding to obligate nectar-feeding by the endangered lesser-long nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae).
Lesser-long nosed bats are the primary pollinator of the cardon and occur sympatrically in most parts of Baja with nectar-feeding pallid bats. This system provides a great opportunity to ask questions about the physiological consequences of a generalist diet strategy as well as explore the coevolutionary consequences of facultative and obligate nectar-feeding pollinator behaviors to plant reproductive success. I collaborate with Dr. Rodrigo Medellin, Dr. Kathleen Kay, and Paul Heady on this research. Funding sources include the National Geographic Society and UC Mexus program.
Frick, W.F., J.R. Shipley, P.A. Heady III, and K.M. Kay. 2014. Seasonal reliance on nectar by an insectivorous bat revealed by stable isotopes. Oecologia 174:55-65
Frick, W.F., R.D. Price, P.A. Heady III, and K.M. Kay. 2013. Insectivorous bat pollinates columnar cactus more effectively than specialized nectar bat. The American Naturalist 181: 137-144.
Frick, W.F., P.A. Heady III, J.P. Hayes. 2009. Facultative nectar-feeding in an insectivorous bat (Antrozous pallidus). Journal of Mammalogy. 90(5): 1157-1164.
Frick, W.F., J.P. Hayes, and P.A. Heady III. 2009. Nestedness of a desert bat assemblage: species composition patterns in insular and terrestrial landscapes. Oecologia. 158: 687-697.
Frick, W.F., J.P. Hayes, and P.A. Heady III. 2008. Patterns of island occupancy in bats: Influences of area and isolation on insular incidence of volant mammals. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 17: 622-632.
Frick, W.F., J.P. Hayes, and P.A. Heady III. 2008. Island biogeography of bats in Baja California, Mexico: Patterns of bat species richness in a desert archipelago. Journal of Biogeography. 35: 353-364.