In the Neotropics, bat-pollinated plants secrete relatively dilute nectars dominated by hexoses (glucose and fructose) with only small amounts of sucrose. We investigated the concentration and sugar composition preferences of Saussure's long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae) and the long-tongued bat (Glossophaga soricina) to test the hypothesis that bats prefer the predominant characteristics (sugar composition and concentration) found in their natural diets. We offered bats pairs of test diets in large outdoor enclosures that allowed free flying. We used artificial nectars that simulated compositions and concentrations found in flowers visited by these 2 species at the study site. Contrary to our predictions, bats showed no preference between sugar types when test solutions had the same concentration. However, L. curasoae preferred concentrated over dilute solutions independent of sugar type. Only 1 preference for concentrated over dilute solutions was recorded for G. soricina. Both species of bat appeared to perceive sugar types as energetically equivalent in most trials. Our study rejects the hypothesis that nectar-feeding neotropical bats act as a selective pressure on nectar composition in chiropterophilous plants. Other possible explanations for the predominance of hexose in chiropterophilous flowers need to be evaluated.
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