From Bats to Bears
Nathan Muchhala, a renowned bat researcher, visited Siempre Verde in November 2009. I contacted him for identification of a plant I thought was pollinated by bats. After seeing my photos, he was interested enough to take a look himself. After a week of mistnetting bats, they caught 48 individuals from nine species, one of which has yet to be identified. They also confirmed at least nine species of bat-pollinated flowers and took nectar and pollen samples for later analysis. Muchhala was searching for a specific bat species he identified for the first time ever in 2006. He didn’t find it on this trip, but found multiple flowers of a plant specifically pollinated by that species, so he is optimistic he will find it on his next visit. He wrote me, saying “[Siempre Verde] turns out to be a bit of a paradise for nectar bats,” with a “remarkably high density of bat-pollinated flowers.” This is not surprising because bats make up a very important part of the pollination ecology of high elevation cloudforests. This type of research provides so much insight into an otherwise under-appreciated forest inhabitant.
The Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) is South America’s only bear species and one of the most important conservation symbols in the Andes. This small bear (avg. 300-400 lbs.) is a shy tree dweller and mostly vegetarian. But it is now threatened with extinction largely because like us, it loves corn, which makes for unfriendly relationships with local farmers. This summer we spotted two cubs in or near the reserve and found numerous signs of bears using the Arriba Trail. The Andean Bear Project operates out of the nearby town of Pucará and regularly tracks bears at Siempre Verde.
Alex Reynolds, Director