The Diet and Reproductive Schedules of Leptonycteris curasoae curasoae and Glossophaga longirostris elongata (Chiroptera: Glossophaginae) on Curaçao
Two bat species, Leptonyrteris curasoae and Glossophaga longirostris, are the principal pollinators of at least two of the three species of columnar cacti that grow on the semiarid island of Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles. I examined the importance of the cacti in the diets of the bats and found that 85–91 percent of their diet samples contained cactus pollen and seeds. At least 43 percent of the samples from each species contained cactus pollen andlor seeds exclusively. Leptonycteris curasoae consumes nectar and pollen of Ceiba pentandra and Agave spp. at the beginning of the dry season and G. longirostris also consumes a few other plant products in the wet season, but both bat species depend nutritionally on cacti. Female bats give birth to one pup per year, and the periods of parturition and lactation in each species correspond to peaks in the reproductive phenology of the two most abundant columnar cactus species. From personal observations and a review of the literature, I determined that bats were unlikely to fly to the mainland to feed, although L. curasoae may do so. I conclude that the interdependence of bats and cacti is suggestive of coevolution, and that columnar cacti are critical for the survival and persistence of nectar-feeding bats on Curaçao.