Using behavioral and stable isotope data to quantify

rare dietary plasticity in a temperate bat

Before and after photos of a cardón fruit that was visited by bats over the course of one evening. The captured pallid bat shown here was smeared with fruit pulp from its upper ear to its chest, indicating its entire head was submerged inside of the fruit while feeding. 

Lesser long-nosed bats have specialized adaptations for nectar-feeding, such as a long rostrum, prehensile tongue, and ability to hover. This translates well into fruit-eating behavior; in an incredibly graceful way, this species hovers over the fruit, feeds, and then flies away. 

In contrast, pallid bats evolved to eat arthropods, such as scorpions. They have a rounded face and lack the ability to hover. Seen here is the not-so-graceful way that pallid bats eat fruit; it wraps its wings around the fruit's outer spines and then sticks its head inside to take a bite before letting go and flying away.

A graphical abstract of our paper, created by Tali Hammond.

Wildlife Ecologist, Science Communicator