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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 19:19-27 (2012)  -  DOI:

Rousettus madagascariensis (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) shows a preference for native and commercially unimportant fruits

Radosoa A. Andrianaivoarivelo1,2,3,*, Richard K. B. Jenkins2,4,5, Eric J. Petit3, Olga Ramilijaona1,†, Noromampiandra Razafindrakoto2, Paul A. Racey

1Department of Animal Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Antananarivo, BP 906, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
2Madagasikara Voakajy, BP 5181, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
3University of Rennes 1/CNRS, UMR 6553 ECOBIO, Biological Station, 35380 Paimpont, France
4Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, School of Anthropology, University of Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NZ, UK
5School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, Bangor University, Deniol Road, Bangor LL57 2UW, UK
6Centre for Ecology and Conservation, School of Biosciences, University of Exeter, Tremough Campus, Penryn TR10 9EZ, UK

ABSTRACT: Flight cage choice experiments carried out over 4 mo demonstrated that a Malagasy fruit bat, Rousettus madagascariensis G. Grandidier, 1928, prefers native or introduced fruit of no commercial value (Ficus polita, Syzygium jambos and S. malaccense) to commercially important fruits (Litchi chinensis and Diospyros kaki). We presented 10 fruit species to the bats: one native (F. polita) and the remainder introduced, 3 of which are commercially important. Most bats responded to fruit presented in a flight cage. Bats swallowed fruit juice and pulp and spat out the fibre of all fruit species provided except L. chinensis and Eugenia jambolana, the flesh of which was swallowed. Chemical composition was the most important determinant of selection by bats. Feeding preference was evidenced by large amounts of chewed pulp, repeated visits to the same fruits and more intensive feeding on lipid- and calcium-rich fruit species. Although commercially important fruit such as L. chinensis and D. kaki tended to have higher fructose content than other species, our results indicate that lipid and calcium content were more important in fruit selection. We suggest that maintaining natural food availability in humid forests and providing alternative sources of fruit (e.g. Syzygium spp.) may contribute to limiting the damage caused by R. madagascariensis to commercially important crops.

KEY WORDS: Flight cage · Choice experiment · Preference · Fruit bat · Madagascar

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Cite this article as: Andrianaivoarivelo RA, Jenkins RKB, Petit EJ, Ramilijaona O, Razafindrakoto N, Racey PA (2012) Rousettus madagascariensis (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) shows a preference for native and commercially unimportant fruits. Endang Species Res 19:19-27.

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