Submitted to: Palynology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/19/2003
Publication Date: 1/1/2004
Citation: Jones, G.D., Keeley, B.W. 2004. Pollen analyses of two insectivorous bat species. Palynology. 28:248. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Insectivorous bats play an essential role in keeping populations of night flying insects in check including agricultural pests (beetles and moths) that cost American farmers billions of dollars. A single bat can catch hundreds of insects in an hour. Concentration of bats within a particular crop may signal oncoming insect pest infestations. Because of the bat's mobility, it is difficult to assess the locations and dispersal patterns of the bats as they feed on the nocturnal insects. Efforts to link bat prey selection to insects associated with agricultural crops are difficult and have important conservation implications. As a control prior to research with bats in agricultural areas, and to work out techniques and various logistical problems, two insectivorous bat species, the fringed myotis (Myotis thysanodes) and the pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus) from the Trans-Pecos Mountain region of Texas were examined for pollen. We wanted to see if pollen occurred on these two insectivorous bats, and wanted to assess the use of pollen as a marker for indicating the plants on which the bat's insect prey were feeding. Pollen samples were collected by dabbing the bats' head, face, and wing membranes with scotch tape, then folding the tape with the sticky sides together and placing them into a marked envelope. Samples were acetolyzed and both scanning electron and light microscopy were used in the analyses. A total of 74 pollen grains from four Agave types were found on the fringed myotis bat, and 80 pollen grains from additional Agave types were found on the pallid bat. As a primary investigation, this research indicates that pollen analyses of insectivorous bats are feasible and can be used to determine the plants on which the insect prey feed. However, because both of these bat species have been documented to land on the flowers of some Agave species, additional research is needed to further determine if pollen is transferred onto the bats from the prey or from flower visits. Pollen transferred from prey could serve to identify the existence and timing of certain flowering plant species and link bats foraging on insects associated with agricultural systems.