Bat Bonanza: 100+ Species Found in 5 Acres of Jungle

Kate Ravilious
for National Geographic News
July 21, 2008

More than a hundred bat species have been found packed into about five acres (two hectares) of Ecuadorian rain forest.

While the species found are not new, the diverse mélange—in Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the eastern part of the country—marks the highest number of bat species ever recorded in one place, researchers report.

Tropical rain forests such as Tiputini offer bats a plentiful menu.

Some of the flying mammals—munch on frogs, insects, fruit, and nectar. Others have a taste for fish. And for vampire bats, only a blood meal will satisfy.

Katja Rex, of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany, and colleagues spent several months capturing bats and identifying species in three tropical rain forest locations: La Selva Biological Station, a lowland rain forest in Costa Rica; Podocarpus National Park, a highland rain forest in southern Ecuador; and Tiputini.

(Related: "Bats Boom on Organic Farms, Study Says" [February 2, 2004].)

Tropical Boon

Though Tiputini had the highest number of bat species, the other stations also displayed rich diversity.

The authors describe 72 species at La Selva and more than 30 from Podocarpus in a recent issue of the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

By comparison, the number of bat species in temperate regions rarely climbs into double figures.

David Hill, a bat expert from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, was not involved with the study.

"To have one hundred species in such a small area is remarkable, as it represents 9 percent of all bat species," Hill said.

Continued on Next Page >>


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