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Carnivorous plant finds way to attract bats

Posted on Saturday, 11 July, 2015 | Comment icon 6 comments

Pitcher plants typically feed on insects. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 JeremiahsCPs
A unique type of pitcher plant has developed a novel way to attract bats using an ultrasound reflector.
Pitcher plants traditionally gain nutrition by trapping and digesting insects, but in Borneo one particularly large variety of pitcher plant has managed to adapt itself to take advantage of an alternative source of nutrition thanks to its rather unusual relationship with bats.

Known as Nepenthes hemsleyana, the species is still capable of catching insects but does not need to consume as many because it supplements its nutritional intake with bat droppings.

To attract bats the plant has developed a unique reflector mechanism that mirrors their ultrasonic communications thus making it a lot easier for the animals to find it.

The bats also benefit from the deal as the plant provides a cool place for them to roost.

"With these structures, the plants are able to acoustically stand out from their environments so that bats can easily find them," said study co-author Michael Schöner.

"Moreover, the bats are clearly able to distinguish their plant partner from other plants that are similar in shape, but lack the conspicuous reflector."

The discovery helps to explain why some pitcher plants can survive on fewer insects than others.

Source: Discovery News | Comments (6)

Tags: Pitcher Plant, Bats

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by lightly on 11 July, 2015, 13:44
that seems amazing to me.. almost like the plant is "thinking"
Comment icon #2 Posted by Infernal Gnu on 11 July, 2015, 14:30
This story is bats**t crazy.
Comment icon #3 Posted by jarjarbinks on 11 July, 2015, 16:17
Living by eating batsh#t ?
Comment icon #4 Posted by Zalmoxis on 11 July, 2015, 20:13
The study further adds to the growing body of research showing that plants can solve complex problems without having a brain. I laughed when I read this quote. It's all sort of beyond me the connectivity of an eco-system that a plant can evolve to recognize and reflect a flying animal's voice. I wonder how that evolved, how the plant learned about the bat poop and knew the bats used ultra-sonic frequencies to sense the environment. It goes to show that everything truly is connected in ways that we are yet to fully understand.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Athena1979 on 12 July, 2015, 0:49
Latrr ...after Batman left the facilities... He heard a quiet "thank you"....
Comment icon #6 Posted by clare256 on 13 July, 2015, 16:32
Feed me Seymour

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