New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2021) 45(1): 3436

Dactylanthus flower visitation by New Zealand lesser short-tailed bats appears to be influenced by daily rainfall

Research Article
Zenon J. Czenze 1,2*
Tertia Thurley 3
  1. School of Biological Sciences, Private Bag 92019, Auckland Mail Centre, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
  2. Centre for Behavioural and Physiological Ecology, Zoology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia
  3. Department of Conservation, 2 South End Avenue, Raumanga, Whangarei 0110, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

The unique relationship between Dactylanthus taylorii and its pollinator, the New Zealand lesser short-tailed bat (Mystacina tuberculata), is poorly understood despite both species being threatened. We used data collected over two summers (2016 and 2017) to determine if mean ambient temperature and total daily rainfall during the flowering period affected flower visitation by bats. We placed dataloggers around D. taylorii inflorescences to monitor bats with implanted passive integrated transponders (PIT-tags). We determined that flower visitation and bat activity was negatively correlated with daily rainfall but not temperature. Further, we found that juveniles and adult males were much more common visitors, with only four visits from adult females in two years. There is still much to learn about the unique and vulnerable relationship between these two New Zealand species, but it appears that rainfall may play a larger role than previously thought.