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Bat-flower interaction networks in Caatinga reveal generalized associations and temporal stability

Citation

Cordero-Schmidt, Eugenia et al. (2021), Bat-flower interaction networks in Caatinga reveal generalized associations and temporal stability, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.v9s4mw6w7

Abstract

Seasonal variation in precipitation regimes influences species composition and plant-animal interactions. Such temporal variation is especially relevant in the Brazilian Caatinga, the largest Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest in South America, where bat pollination is unusually frequent in comparison with other tropical plant communities. Here, we describe seasonal and annual variations of the interaction networks between nectarivorous bats and flower species in the Caatinga. Five species of nectar-feeding bats interacted with 30 plant species. Nectarivorous bats showed high levels of interaction overlap, which contributed to ecological generalization (low specialization and modularity) and lack of nestedness in the interaction networks. This pattern was consistent across seasons and years. Chiropterophilous and non-chiropterophilous plants were equally important components of the interaction network. The generalized interaction patterns found may be a necessary condition for the persistence of nectarivorous bats and their specialized plants in the environmentally harsh and variable Caatinga. The underappreciated generalized interactions of bats with plants calls for studies testing the effectiveness of bats in pollinating the plants they visit, including those not typically categorized as “bat-flowers”.

Funding

Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Award: 401467 / 2014-7

Rufford Foundation, Award: 25057-1