Sweet-tooth bats go for quan­tity in wild

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - NEWS -

In lab ex­per­i­ments, bats pre­fer syrupy nec­tars high in sugar, but in the wild, they pol­li­nate plants pro­duc­ing mostly wa­tery nec­tars.

Why? The an­swer may lie in some­thing called the We­ber-Fech­ner law, which says that an­i­mals, in­clud­ing peo­ple, com­monly per­ceive phys­i­cal stim­uli in relative in­cre­ments rather than ab­so­lutes. They can be more sen­si­tive to changes in quan­tity than in qual­ity. Nec­tar-feed­ing bats must con­sider the vol­ume of avail­able nec­tar and its sugar con­cen­tra­tion. They pre­fer high lev­els of both, but the We­ber-Fech­ner law pre­dicts that the bats ought to per­ceive in­creases in vol­ume more acutely than they do in­creases in sugar con­cen­tra­tion.

New re­search con­firms it: Bats pre­fer to pol­li­nate plants that pro­duce more nec­tar, even if that nec­tar is less sug­ary.

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