First record of bat-pollination in the species-rich genus Tillandsia (Bromeliaceae)

Pedro Adrián Aguilar-Rodríguez*, M. Cristina MacSwiney G., Thorsten Krömer, José G. García-Franco, Anina Knauer, Michael Kessler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Aims Bromeliaceae is a species-rich neotropical plant family that uses a variety of pollinators, principally vertebrates. Tillandsia is the most diverse genus, and includes more than one-third of all bromeliad species. Within this genus, the majority of species rely on diurnal pollination by hummingbirds; however, the flowers of some Tillandsia species show some characteristics typical for pollination by nocturnal animals, particularly bats and moths. In this study an examination is made of the floral and reproductive biology of the epiphytic bromeliad Tillandsia macropetala in a fragment of humid montane forest in central Veracruz, Mexico. Methods The reproductive system of the species, duration of anthesis, production of nectar and floral scent, as well as diurnal and nocturnal floral visitors and their effectiveness in pollination were determined. Key Results Tillandsia macropetala is a self-compatible species that achieves a higher fruit production through outcrossing. Nectar production is restricted to the night, and only nocturnal visits result in the development of fruits. The most frequent visitor (75 % of visits) and the only pollinator of this bromeliad (in 96 % of visits) was the nectarivorous bat Anoura geoffroyi (Phyllostomidae: Glossophaginae). Conclusions This is the first report of chiropterophily within the genus Tillandsia. The results on the pollination biology of this bromeliad suggest an ongoing evolutionary switch from pollination by birds or moths to bats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1047-1055
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Botany
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Anoura geofroyii
  • Bat-pollination
  • Bromeliaceae
  • Bromeliad
  • Chiropterophily
  • Floral visitors
  • Humid montane forest
  • Mexico
  • Pollinator effectiveness
  • Tillandsia macropetala


Dive into the research topics of 'First record of bat-pollination in the species-rich genus Tillandsia (Bromeliaceae)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this