Habitat

Most phyllostomid bats are forest-dwellers. They live in a wide range of forest habitats, including tropical rainforests, tropical dry forests, and subtropical cloud forests. A few species, including two species of Leptonycteris and Choeronyc-teris mexicana (Glossophaginae) in Mexico and Platalina gen-ovensium (Lonchophyllinae) in Peru, inhabit deserts or very dry tropical forests where they are important pollinators of columnar cacti and century plants (agaves).

Daytime roost structures of American leaf-nosed bats are quite diverse. Most species live in caves and/or hollow trees, but alternate roosts include mines, culverts, hollow logs, under tree roots, undercut river banks, houses, abandoned termite nests, and tree foliage. Suitable roosts are extremely important in the ecology of these bats and can sometimes limit their abundance and distribution. The relatively recent local extinction of many species of mormoopid and phyl-lostomid bats in the West Indies, for example, was likely caused by the inundation of extensive cave systems as a result of post-Pleistocene increases in sea level.

In addition to providing protection from inclement weather and predators, cave roosts provide stable microclimates. Most cave-dwelling phyllostomids live in roosts that are at or slightly below outside ambient temperatures. These temperatures are often below the thermoneutral zones of the bats, which forces them to expend energy to maintain a constant, high body temperature (98.6-100.4°F; 37-38°C). Certain glossophagine bats, however, including Leptonycteris curasoae and Monophyllus red-mani, live in hot, humid caves where temperatures reach 91°F (33°C) within their thermoneutral zones. These caves are hot because they trap the body heat of tens of thousands of phyl-lostomid and mormoopid bats. In addition to reducing individual daily energy costs and rates of evaporative water loss,

A Pallas's long-tongued bat (Glossophaga soricina) pollinating a banana flower. (Photo by Merlin D. Tuttle/Bat Conservation International/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)
A velvety fruit-eating bat (Artibeus hartii) eats a banana in Costa Rica. (Photo by Animals Animals ©Richard La Val. Reproduced by permission.)

this roosting strategy increases the developmental rates of embryos and lactating babies.

Most members of the Stenodermatinae usually roost either solitarily or in small groups in foliage and, hence, are constantly exposed to (shaded) ambient temperatures. In addition, several species (e.g., Uroderma bilobatum, Artibeus wat-soni, and Ectophylla alba) are known to construct "tents" by clipping the leaves of banana-like herbs, philodendrons, and palms to form shelters from rain and predators. Species of Rhinophylla (Carolliinae) also use tents as day roosts. Tent roosts are short-lived, which forces groups of bats to constantly change roost sites.

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