Caribbean dry forests are hotspots of biodiversity and Jaragua National Park (PNJ) is one of the most important dry forests in Dominican Republic. It is a critical habitat for several endangered species of plants, mammals and reptiles of the Hispaniola Island. Within vertebrates, birds and bats play a dominant role in plant dispersal. Quantifying the diet of these animals is important for understanding the seed dispersal and the maintenance of tropical dry forest plant communities in the West Indies. This study quantified the diet of bat species in PNJ. This was done by night sampling bat individuals using mist nets during the rainy (August 2014) and dry seasons (January 2014 and 2015). Bats were held in bags until defecation and then all material feces was collected, photographed and any seeds in the sample was identified in the laboratory at Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo.
A total of six species of bats were collected. This included the dominant and endemic frugivore Phyllops falcatus, as well as the insectivor Pteronoptus parnellii. Most notably, feces of Phyllops falcatus and Pteronoptus parnellii bats contained Ficus sp. seeds. This is consistent with data reported for both species in Cuba and Mexico, respectively. For P. parnellii, leguminous seeds were also present indicating that the diet of this species is more diverse than previously reported. This is just one example of the dispersal role of bats in a tropical dry forest, one of the few native mammals in the Caribbean. We discuss these results in light of seed dispersal and the maintenance of tropical dry forest plant communities in the Caribbean.