Definitions of Interaction Types
This database only contains accounts of bats interacting with plants or arthropods and not hypotheses that they might (e.g. a flower has chiropterophilous features). We report what is published and do not assume that every visit to a flower results in pollination or that every fruit eaten results in seed dispersal. We do assume that every object that is consumed is destroyed in the process.
The database recognizes 9 interaction types that are divided here by the object of their interaction (see Conceptual Data Map, under About Database tab). The different interaction types per object may show “gradients” of use. For instance, if a study shows, by performing exclusion experiments, that a bat is a pollinator of a particular plant species, then it is assumed that it has also visited the flower and “Flower visitation” does not need to be reported as well.
Flower (3 interaction types)
- Flower Consumption: The animal deliberately eats flowers to the extent that the damage is greater than the potential benefits of pollen transport and pollination is thus unlikely. Use this interaction type when the author(s) either witnessed the animal eating the flower or report the damage to the flower. A bat having pollen in its feces does not indicate that it “consumed” the flower.
- Flower Visitation: The animal visits flowers to collect nectar or pollen, but it is not confirmed that it has come into contact with the flower’s reproductive parts. Pollen may be found on fur, in feces or stomach. Use this interaction if the author(s) observed the bat interacting with the flower (but not destroying it) or when pollen was found in the fur, stomach, or feces.
- Pollination: The animal visits the flower and in so doing comes into contact with the reproductive parts (anthers and stigma), and deposited pollen on the stigma, often resulting in fertilization and development of fruit/seeds. The action is confirmed if author(s) show the deposition of pollen and/or fruits development using exclusion experiments, video/photography showing pollen deposition, or other method, such as adhesives, showing pollen deposition. Pollen on the fur or in stomachs or feces does NOT indicate pollination.
Fruit and Seed (3 interactions types)
- Fruit Consumption: The animal feeds on fruit en situ on the parent plant or cache without moving seeds or fruit away from the location at which they were found. Use this interaction type when author(s) report the animal feeding on the plant and not flying away with the fruit or feeding on fruits, such as bananas in the New World, that do not actually have seeds. Also, use this interaction type if the only evidence of the animal visiting the plant is pulp in feces or stomach.
- Seed Consumption: The animal may appear to be dispersing seeds/fruit, but in actuality is deliberately masticating or otherwise destroying seeds when feeding (example: Chiroderma crushing and swallowing masticated Ficus seeds in Nogueira & Peracchi, 2003). This is a rather rare interaction to be observed. Use this interaction type when authors report the deliberate destruction of seeds for food.
- Seed Dispersal: This process includes fruit dispersal per se. The animal removes fruit/seed (diaspore) from the parent plant and deposits seeds in a new location without harming them. This can include the following types of primary dispersal:
- Endozoochorous (diaspore is ingested and passed unharmed through the digestive tract of an animal),
- Epizoochorous (diaspore sticks to the skin, feathers, or fur of an animal by barbs, hooks, or viscid surface), or
- Stomatochorous (diaspore is deliberately carried away by an animal and dropped with viable seeds after the edible parts are consumed)
In most cases, it is assumed that the animal will have consumed the fruit when it is dispersing seeds so it is not needed to report both “Fruit Consumption” and “Seed Dispersal.” Use this interaction type when authors report seeds in stomach or feces, seeds adhering to fur, animal carrying fruit while flying, seeds/fruit found under night/feeding or day roosts or collected at night in seed traps set to catch bat seed rain (when it can be safely assumed that bats were the ones that dropped them).
Leaves (1 interaction type)
- Leaves Consumption: The animal deliberately chews or eats leaves. Use this interaction type when author report the animal eating leaves en situ or finding leaf fragments in ejecta pellets under roosts. In some instances, bats eat leaves of the same species where they eat fruit. These interactions should be entered separately. Do NOT use this interaction type if the animal is making a “tent” roost out of the leaf since it is not actually chewing the leaf for sustenance.
Arthropod/Insect (2 interaction types)
- Arthropod Consumption: The animal deliberately consumes arthropods in the air, on a surface, or in the water. Use this interaction type when whole, part, or DNA of the arthropod/insect is recovered in feces or stomachs, or the interaction is witnessed or recorded (photo/video/bat detector).
- Arthropod Transport: The animal is being used by the arthropod as a transport agent (e.g, flower mites moving from one plant to another) or as a moving food source (e.g., an ectoparasite living on the outside of a bat). Use this interaction type when authors report ectoparasites on bats.