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Research Letters in Ecology
Volume 2007, Article ID 34212, 4 pages
Research Letter

Mineral Licks Attract Neotropical Seed-Dispersing Bats

1Leibniz Institute for Zoo- and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke Street 17, Berlin 10315, Germany
2Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, P.O. Box 0843-03092, Balboa, Ancon, Panama
3Department of Biology, Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA
4Department of Biology, Stable Isotope Laboratory, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA

Received 4 September 2007; Accepted 10 October 2007

Academic Editor: B. A. Hawkins

Copyright © 2007 Christian C. Voigt et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Unlike most terrestrial mammals, female bats must supply their offspring with all required nutrients until pups achieve virtually adult size, at which time they are able to fly and become independent. Access to nutrients may be especially challenging for reproductively active females in mineral-poor landscapes such as tropical rainforests. We hypothesized that pregnant and lactating females from tropical landscapes acquire essential nutrients from locally-available mineral licks. We captured ten times as many bats at mineral licks than at control sites in a lowland rainforest in eastern Ecuador. Among bats captured at mineral licks, the sex ratio was heavily biased toward females, and a significantly higher portion of females captured at these sites, compared to control sites, were reproductively active (pregnant and lactating). Enrichment of N15 in relation to N14 in wing tissue indicated that bats captured at mineral licks were mostly fruit-eating species. Given the high visitation rates of reproductive active females at mineral licks, it is likely that mineral licks are important for fruit-eating female bats as a mineral source during late pregnancy and lactation. By sustaining high population densities of fruit-eating bats that disperse seeds, mineral licks may have an indirect influence on local plant species richness.