The great fruit-eating bat (Artibeus literatus) is only one of many species of leaf-nosed bats that inhabit Latin American rain forests. Such bats are vital to these tropical ecosystems, pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds of countless trees and shrubs. Many of these, such as the Cecropia shown here, are known as "pioneer" plants, the first to grow on cleared land in disturbed areas of the forest. Bats are critical to the cycle of rain forest regeneration.
--Photo by Merlin D. Tuttle