Bat pollination in Bromeliaceae

Pedro A. Aguilar-Rodríguez*, Thorsten Krömer, Marco Tschapka, José G. García-Franco, Jeanett Escobedo-Sarti, M. Cristina MacSwiney G

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Chiropterophily encompasses the floral traits by which bats are attracted as the main pollinators. Among the chiropterophilous flowering plants of the New World, Bromeliaceae is one of the most ecologically important families; however, information about the chiropterophilous interaction in this family is still scarce. Aims: We present a comprehensive review of bat pollination in bromeliads, covering floral traits, rewards offered to pollinators, floral attractants and the identity of visiting bat species. Methods: We discuss traits shared among chiropterophilous bromeliads and present general trends in an evolutionary context. We constructed a phylogenetic tree to elucidate the ancestral pollination syndromes of the 42 extant bromeliad species (ca. 1% of total) known to be bat-pollinated. Results: Most of the species within the ten genera reported belong to the Tillandsioideae subfamily, with three genera appearing to be exclusively bat-pollinated. Floral visitors include 19 bat species of 11 genera from the Phyllostomidae. Conclusions: Our analysis indicated that chiropterophilous floral features originated multiple times in bromeliad evolution, most probably from ornithophilous. The evidence for floral traits associated with bat pollination and the chiropterophilous syndrome presented by certain Bromeliaceae indicate the important role played by bats in the evolution of this plant family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalPlant Ecology and Diversity
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Anoura
  • Werauhia
  • bromeliads
  • chiropterophily
  • floral scent
  • nectar
  • pollination


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