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Floral Acoustics: Conspicuous Echoes of a Dish-Shaped Leaf Attract Bat Pollinators

Science  29 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6042, pp. 631-633
DOI: 10.1126/science.1204210

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Abstract

The visual splendor of many diurnal flowers serves to attract visually guided pollinators such as bees and birds, but it remains to be seen whether bat-pollinated flowers have evolved analogous echo-acoustic signals to lure their echolocating pollinators. Here, we demonstrate how an unusual dish-shaped leaf displayed above the inflorescences of the vine Marcgravia evenia attracts bat pollinators. Specifically, this leaf’s echoes fulfilled requirements for an effective beacon, that is, they were strong, multidirectional, and had a recognizable invariant echo signature. In behavioral experiments, presence of the leaves halved foraging time for flower-visiting bats.

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