Energy and nutrient availability are important determinants of fetal and offspring development. Given high energy and nutrient expenditure during pregnancy and lactation, foraging strategies and choices of specific food items are critical for survival of both mother and offspring. We analyzed dietary variation and consumption of nitrogen-rich and calcium-rich foods during different developmental stages in Seba's short-tailed fruit bat (Carollia perspicillata). Dietary analysis was carried out on fecal samples from males and nonpregnant, early pregnant, late pregnant, and lactating females at Macaregua Cave in Santander, Colombia. Diets were similar among males, nonpregnant females, and pregnant females, but lactating females exhibited statistically distinguishable diets. Males and pregnant females displayed a generalist diet, eating a wide variety of items, whereas nonpregnant and lactating females had narrower diets. Nitrogen-rich items, such as Piper (Piperales: Piperaceae; pepper plants) and insects, were not prevalent in the diet of pregnant bats, whereas spiked pepper exceeded expected frequencies in the diets of lactating bats. Calcium-rich Ficus (Rosales: Moraceae; figs) was rarely found in the diets of lactating or pregnant bats. Increased calcium requirements associated with lactation may therefore be satisfied through other avenues.
- dietary variation
- reproductive biology