Oh sweet, sort of sweet nectar!

Baturday News is a weekly blog written by Rachael, a high school student, bat advocate, and Save Lucy volunteer. Rachael’s interest in bats was sparked by the big brown bats that used the outside of her former home for a winter roost. Rachael has been writing the Baturday News for over three years.

A photo of a long tongued bat from COsta Rica
A long tongued bat (Glossophaga commissarisi). Photo By Karin Schneeberger (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a good week. I was a little sad yesterday because we didn’t get any snow. I had been promised some snow and we got absolutely nothing! Of course, I woke up to flurries this morning. It’s pretty, but I doubt they’ll cancel school on Monday because of it. Hopefully the next storm will be a little kinder to FCPS students.

I read an interesting article about flower nectar and fruit bats. Scientists from the Humboldt University in Germany were studying why the nectar from plants isn’t as sweet as possible. Apparently, bats would prefer nectar that has 60% sugar, but plants usually have nectar that is only about 20% sugar. The scientist figured out why.

They went to the Costa Rican rainforest and worked with wild long-tongued bats. The scientists ran a very interesting experiment using artificial flowers full of sugar water. They changed the concentration of their sugar water depending on computer calculations based on which flowers the bats were visiting. Their experiments showed that nectar that had mid-levels of sweetness attracted the most bats.

They say the reason is something called Weber’s Law. Weber’s Law states that our ability to tell the difference between two sensations changes with intensity. They use the example that it is easier to notice a difference in brightness if you add a second lightbulb to a room, but it wouldn’t be as noticeable if you add a lightbulb to a room that already has 50 lightbulbs turned on. That means that with so many flowers in the rainforest, a plant would need to produce a lot more sugar to make a noticeable difference.

If you would like to learn more about this interesting study, you can read about it here.

I hope everyone has a nice week.



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