Futurity

Varied diets mean more new kinds of bats

Eating a variety of foods—including both plants and insects—could be an evolutionary benefit, research with bats shows.

Omnivorous New World noctilionoid bats, whose diets include both plant and animal materials, produce more generations in the long run than specialized vegetarian or insectivorous species, a new study indicates.

Past research has shown that when species evolve from being a predator or insectivore to being a vegetarian, the rate at which new species arise increases.

Study coauthor Liliana Dávalos, a professor in the ecology and evolution department at Stony Brook University, and colleagues examined the rate at which new species arise, as well as the rate of change for diet across the evolutionary history of more than a hundred species of these bats.

They found that adding plants to the diet increased rates of new species formation. The fastest rates of species formation corresponded to lineages that fed mostly—but not exclusively on plant products—or fed on many different types of products such a fruit, nectar, and pollen.

Conversely, when the bats specialized on a single plant product new species formation decreased.

“These bats illustrate that being a generalist herbivore or a modestly insectivorous omnivore is a boon, perhaps because it is a form of insurance against erratic or unpredictable plant blooming or fruiting schedules,” says Dávalos.

The survival lesson: Omnivory that includes a wide variety of plant materials improves chances for survival and evolution.

The researchers report their findings in the journal Ecology Letters.

Partial funding came from the National Science Foundation.

Source: Stony Brook University

The post Varied diets mean more new kinds of bats appeared first on Futurity.

More from Futurity

Futurity3 min read
Racial Achievement Gap Tracks With School Discipline Gap
An increase in the discipline gap or the academic achievement gap between black and white students in the US predicts a jump in the other, a new study shows. Similarly, as one gap narrows, so does the other. Students of color are suspended at disprop
Futurity3 min read
Piranhas Lose And Regrow A Bunch Of Teeth All At Once
Piranhas lose all of the teeth on one side of their mouth at once and regrow them, new research affirms. This presumably happens to replace dulled teeth with brand new sharp spears for gnawing on prey. Years ago, scientists discovered that piranhas l
Futurity3 min readTech
AR System Lets Users Reach Out And Grab Virtual Stuff
With a new software system, users can view augmented reality objects through their phones and use their hands to manipulate those objects as if they were real. The developers hope their software, called Portal-ble, could be a tool for artists, design