Nectar Seeker Sneaks Insect Snacks: niche flexibility in Glossophaga soricina

Elizabeth L Clare, Holger R R Goerlitz, Violaine A C M Drapeau, Marc W Holderied, Amanda M. Adams, Juliet Nagel, Elizabeth R. Dumont, Hebert Paul DN, M. Brock Fenton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Omnivory is a common approach to feeding, but extreme niche flexibility is less frequently encountered. We demonstrate that the Neotropical bat Glossophaga soricina, a widespread nectarivore, is also an efficient insectivore, particularly of tympanate noctuid moths. We provide evidence that captures are not opportunistic, but achieved through active hunting and describe the acoustic mechanism enabling this behaviour. Echolocation calls of G. soricina are high frequency but low intensity compared to those of most insectivorous bats, and inconspicuous to insects with bat-detecting ears. This technique allows the bat to effect a stealthy approach without eliciting an escape response from the moth. In contrast to most insectivorous bats, G. soricina approaching an insect did not produce feeding buzzes. G. soricina consumed prey while perched and manipulated them with jaw, thumb, wrist and wing movements but chewing appeared less efficient than obligate insectivores.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFunction Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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