Save Our Bats, Save Our Tequila: Industry and Science Join Forces to Help Bats and Agaves
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The genus Agave is one of the most diverse and rich groups of plants of Mexico. Mexican people have developed several technologies to extract products from Agave, and for many years they have consumed five different alcoholic beverages derived from Agave: Tequila, Mezcal, Bacanora, Raicilla, and Pulque. Additionally, Agave has coevolved with nectar-feeding bats, and in several cases, bats play the main role as functional pollinators in this ecological relationship. But with growth in the demand of agave derived products, management practices have reduced dependence on bat pollination, using instead clonal shoots to replant fields and harvesting plants before flowering, thereby negatively affecting both bats (by decreasing food availability) and agaves (by lowering their genetic diversity). We explore the possibility that bat-friendly practices may be incorporated into the production system. We compiled data about the pollination biology of Agave to infer how many bats could use the available resources, if Mezcal and Tequila producers allowed 5–10% of agave crop inflorescences to flower based on a linear projection using Agave angustifolia (a sister group of A. tequilana). If only 5% of the plants in one hectare were allowed to flower (approximately 222 individuals), then, depending on nectar concentration and total volume, a minimum of 89 individual bats could feed every night during flowering period. This means that allowing 5% of the current total population of A. tequilana reproductive agaves to flower could feed a total of 2,336,250 nectar feeding bats per month.
Agave, Bat-Friendly, Conservation, Tequila Production
Natural Areas Journal, Vol. 36, no. 4 (2016-10-01).
Trejo-Salazar, Roberto-Emiliano; Equiarte, Luis E.; and Suro-Pinera, David, "Save Our Bats, Save Our Tequila: Industry and Science Join Forces to Help Bats and Agaves" (2016). KIP Articles. 4671.