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Landscape Movements by Two Species of Migratory Nectar-Feeding Bats (Leptonycteris) in a Northern Area of Seasonal Sympatry
- Bogan, Michael A., Cryan, Paul M., Weise, Christa D., Valdez, Ernest W.
- Western North American naturalist 2017 v.77 no.3 pp. 317-330
- Agave, Chiroptera, animals, cacti and succulents, deserts, food plants, foraging, habitats, landscapes, migratory behavior, mountains, nectar feeding, pollinators, roosting behavior, spring, summer, sympatry, Mexico, New Mexico
- Animals often migrate to exploit seasonally ephemeral food. Three species of nectar-feeding phyllostomid bats migrate north from Mexico into deserts of the United States each spring and summer to feed on blooms of columnar cactus and century plants (Agave spp.). However, the habitat needs of these important desert pollinators are poorly understood. We followed the nighttime movements of 2 species of long-nosed bats (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae and L. nivalis) in an area of late-summer sympatry at the northern edges of their migratory ranges. We radio-tracked bats in extreme southwestern New Mexico during 22 nights over 2 summers and acquired location estimates for 31 individuals. Both species cohabitated 2 major day roosts that were 30 km apart and in different mountain ranges, and individual bats sometimes moved between the roosts. Sampling was opportunistic and limited, but there were no obvious qualitative differences in observed patterns of movement between species or years, or among sex, age, and reproductive groups. Both species were observed foraging most often in the mountain range that had a relatively higher observed density of presumed food plants (Agave palmeri); when roosting in an adjacent mountain range, bats sometimes commuted >20 km one way to forage. Contrary to evidence indicating these species partition resources farther south in Mexico, our findings suggest that L. yerbabuenae and L. nivalis seasonally share common roost and food resources during late summer in this northern area of sympatry.