Comparison of Adaptations for Nectar Feeding in Hummingbirds and American Leaf-Nosed Bats

Comparison of Adaptations for Nectar Feeding in Hummingbirds and American Leaf-Nosed Bats

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The coevolution of flowering plants and their pollinators has filled the earth with a diversity of life-forms: a quarter-million species of plants, and almost as many animal pollinators, including at least 1,200 vertebrates. Most tropical and subtropical plants are pollinated by insects, a small but ecologically and economically important group of plants are pollinated by birds and mammals(Devy and Davidar, 2003). Bats and birds have families within their orders that are nectar feeding, both these groups have developed similar traits for this ecological niche. Nectar feeding has evolved at least three times in birds and twice in bats. Since birds have been heavily studied in this area, looking at the evolution of hummingbird nectar feeding traits is quite easy. Nectar feeding in bats has not been studied to a great extent and it is still being determined where the divergence happened in the evolutionary line, the leaf-nosed bats have the most research on nectar feeding. Hummingbirds are within the order Apodiformes which also include swifts, their family is Trochilidae, which includes all hummingbirds. Leaf-nosed bats are within the order Chiroptera, which include all bats, their family is Phyllostomidae(leaf-nosed bats), which includes the new world nectar and fruit feeding bats. These traits can be seen as functionally convergent yet that are not anatomically convergent. When looking at the morphological differences between animals, it’s comparing the structure, while looking at the physiological differences it’s comparing the function of these structures. Looking at hummingbirds and leaf-nosed bats tongues, their structures are very different while the function is very similar. Another unique adaptation the hummingbird and lea...

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...ectar production in a tropical ecosystem. The biology of nectaries (ed. by B. Bentley and T. Elias), pp. 30–79. Columbia University Press, New York.

Paton, D. C., & Collins, B. G. (1989). Bills and tongues of nectar‐feeding birds: A review of morphology, function and performance, with intercontinental comparisons. Australian Journal of Ecology, 14(4), 473-506.

Pellmyr, O. (2002) Pollination by animals. Plant–animal interactions: an evolutionary approach (ed. by C.M. Herrera and O. Pellmyr), pp. 157–184. Blackwell Science Ltd, Oxford.

Schuchmann, K. L. (1999). Family Trochilidae (Hummingbirds). Handbook of the birds of the world, 5, 468-680.

Voigt, C. C., & Winter, Y. (1999). Energetic cost of hovering flight in nectar-feeding bats (Phyllostomidae: Glossophaginae) and its scaling in moths, birds and bats. Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 169(1), 38-48.

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