Volume 7
Issue 2

Yellow-shouldered bats (Sturnira lilium) are important seed dispersers in the New World tropics. This one is approaching the fruit of Solanum rugosum, belonging to the tomato family. Yellow-shouldered bats appear to rely upon it heavily for food. Solanum shrubs are known as “pioneer” plants because they are among the first and most abundant to appear on cleared land in tropical forests—both natural or created by humans. These plants are quick to grow and mature, attracting birds and other bats that drop even more seeds, thus accelerating forest regrowth and adding to diversity. Studies in both the Old and New World show that while birds drop most of their seeds around the fruiting tree and in mature undergrowth, bats contribute most of the seeds dropped on cleared land, thus beginning the process of renewal. Yellow-shouldered bats are abundant members of a family known as leaf-nosed bats and are found in tropical areas throughout Latin America. Photo by Merlin D. Tuttle