Natures wonders: pitcher plants as bat motels (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Monday, July 13, 2015, 14:55 (1607 days ago) @ David Turell

Great system. The plant reflects sonar to invite the bat, who gets a good nights sleep while the plant is paid in guano, a great fertilizer:

"Some bats in Borneo have living sleeping bags thanks to carnivorous pitcher plants that can snuggly accommodate one of the sleeping mammals in their vase-shaped flowers. And researchers working in peat swap forests on the tropical island have discovered that the plants have evolved a unique way of advertising the cozy roost: by reflecting back the bats' sonar in a unique way. The scientists reported their findings last week (July 9) in Current Biology. The pitcher plants—which constitute the first known example of a plant using a sonic method of attracting a mutualistic partner for fertilization rather than pollination—benefit from serving as bat hotels because the slumbering mammals deposit guano into the flower, fertilizing the plant.

"The researchers determined that the pitcher plant, Nepenthes hemsleyana, advertises itself as a roost to Hardwicke's woolly bats, Kerivoula hardwickii, by reflecting back the bats' high-frequency sonar calls in a way that distinguishes it from other, less accommodating, plants in the ecosystem. The slender, vase-like shape of N. hemsleyana's flowers, which shares the habitat with hundreds of other pitcher plant species, appears to be crucial to this reflective communication."

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