Dr. Caroline Regina Schöner
Applied Zoology and Nature Conservation
Tel.: +49 (0)3834 420-4273
Fax: +49 (0)3834 420-4252
Costs and Benefits in a Bat-Pitcher Plant Interaction
Despite ongoing researches, mutualisms still present a puzzle: How do they evolve? Which benefits overweigh the costs of all included partners? What keeps them alive? Which are the ultimate causes of mutualisms? To answer questions like these, I am researching on the interactions between bats and carnivorous pitcher plants (Nepenthes). In 2009, my colleagues and I discovered that the bat species Kerivoula hardwickii regularly roosts in the pitcher plant Nepenthes hemsleyana which absorbs nutrients from the bats’ feces. Further observations showed that the bats are also interacting with other pitcher plants but these pitchers do not gain nutrients and are less optimal as bat roosts (e.g. micro climate, parasite infestation or body condition of the bats). For a deeper knowledge about the ultimate causes of the bat-pitcher plant mutualism I experimentally feed pitcher plants in the field and the lab with alternative prey (insects/ bat feces) to analyze if there are feeding-correlated differences in growth rates, fluorescence and photosynthesis rates, chlorophyll contents or nitrogen/ phosphate uptake (e.g. by stable isotope analysis). Furthermore, I experimentally test the bats’ behavior towards different pitcher plant species and monitor their physiological reactions (e.g. body temperature). Additionally, I am conducting genetic analyses to find out if preferences in the choice of different pitcher plant species are based on genetic differences between populations or if they are a kind of tradition. Overall, this will improve our knowledge about mutualisms and the requirements of mutualistic species to their environment.
- Schöner, C.R., Schöner, M.G., Grafe, T.U., Clarke, C.M., Dombrowski, L., Tan, M.C. & Kerth, G. (2016): Ecological outsourcing: a pitcher plant benefits from transferring pre-digestion of prey to a bat mutualist. Journal of Ecology, early view. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12653.
- Schöner, M.G., Schöner, C.R., Kerth, G., Ji, L.L. & Grafe, T.U. (2016): Bats attend to plant structures to identify roosting sites. Acta Chiropterologica 18: 433-440.
- Schöner, M.G., Simon, R. & Schöner, C.R. (2016): Acoustic communication in plant - animal interactions. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 32: 88-95.
- Struebig, M.J., Huang, J.C.-C.H., Mohamed, N.Z., Noerfahmy, S., Schöner, C.R., Schöner, M.G. & Francis, C.M. (2016): Forest surveys extend the range of the Krau woolly bat (Kerivoula krauensis) in the Malay-Thai Peninsula, Borneo and Sumatra. Mammalia online early.
- Lim, Y. S., C. R. Schöner, M. G. Schöner, G. Kerth, D. G. Thornham, M. Scharmann & T. U. Grafe (2015): How a pitcher plant facilitates roosting of mutualistic woolly bats. Evolutionary Ecology Research 16: 581–591.
- Schöner, M. G., C. R. Schöner, R. Simon, T. U. Grafe, S. J. Puechmaille, L. L. Ji & G. Kerth (2015): Bats are acoustically attracted to mutualistic carnivorous plants. Current Biology 25: 1-6.
- Schöner, C. R., M. G. Schöner, G. Kerth, S. N. Suhaini & T. U. Grafe (2015): Low costs reinforce the mutualism between bats and pitcher plants. Zoologischer Anzeiger - A Journal of Comparative Zoology 258: 1-5.
- Schöner, C. R., M. G. Schöner, G. Kerth & T. U. Grafe (2013): Supply determines demand: Influence of partner quality and quantity on the interactions between bats and pitcher plants. Oecologia 173: 191-202x.
- Schöner, C. R. & M. G. Schöner (2013): Batty and Pitty. Children’s story. Illustrated by Claudia Spitzkopf and Robin Schöfer. Free download: www.seabcru.org/outreach/brunei-outreach-materials.
- Schöner, M. G. & C. R. Schöner (2013): Symbiotischer Untermieter gesucht. Hardwicke-Wollfledermäuse schlafen in fleischfressenden Pflanzen. Hundkatzepferd. Das Fachmagazin für den Tierarzt. 6: 2-4.
- Schöner, M. G. & C. R. Schöner (2012): Fledermausporträt: Hardwicke-Wollfledermaus, Kerivoula hardwickii (Horsefield, 1824). Nyctalus (N.F.) 17: 400-404.
- Schöner, C. R. & M. G. Schöner (2012): Living inside a deadly trap. Woolly bats use carnivorous pitcher plants as roosts. Bats 30 (3): 2-3.
- Grafe, T. U., C. R. Schöner, A. Junaidi, G. Kerth & M. G. Schöner (2011): A novel resource-service mutualism between bats and pitcher plants. Biology Letters 7: 436-439.
- Schöner, C. R., M. G. Schöner & G. Kerth (2010): Similar is not the same: Social calls of conspecifics are more effective in attracting wild bats to day roosts than those of other bat species. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 46: 2053-2063.