Bats are responsible for pollinating several species of plants. A new paper in Annals of Botany reports for the first time bat-pollination of a species in the genus Tillandsia.
Bromeliaceae is a species-rich neotropical plant family, of which Tillandsia is the most diverse genus and includes more than a third of all bromeliad species. The flowers of some species show characteristics typical for pollination by nocturnal animals, particularly bats and moths. The authors find that nectar production is restricted to the night hours, and the most frequent visitor and the only pollinator is the nectarivorous bat Anoura geoffroyi. This is the first report of chiropterophily within the genus Tillandsia, and the results suggest an ongoing evolutionary switch from pollination by birds or moths to bats.
Aguilar-Rodríguez, P.A., Krömer, T., García-Franco, J.G., Knauer, A., & Kessler, M. (2014) First record of bat-pollination in the species-rich genus Tillandsia (Bromeliaceae). Annals of Botany, 113 (6): 1047-1055. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcu031
(Sorry, we’ll try to make next year’s Halloween special much scarier than this.)