Background: Figs are widely distributed key resources to many tropical-subtropical animals, and flying-foxes are major consumers and seed dispersers of figs. Bat-fig interrelationships, however, may vary among species differing in fruiting traits, i.e., bat- versus bird-dispersed figs. We examined Ryukyu flying-fox foraging dispersion and the relationships with tree species composition and fig abundance in forests of Iriomote Island. Results: Bat foraging dispersion showed no spatial patterns with respect to different areas of the island, and was not explained by heterogeneity, density, or basal area (BA) of total trees, nor by relative density or BA of fruiting trees or total fruiting figs among sites. Instead, bat densities were positively dependent on the relative density of total figs, and particularly the relative BA of bat-dispersed figs Ficus septica and F. variegata. Both species were dominant figs in forests, fruiting asynchronously with long crop seasons, and were used as predominant foods. Bats foraged mostly solitarily and the mean density was in a hump-shaped relationship with crop sizes of the dominant bat-figs. These two species and Ficus benguetensis are larger-sized bat-figs, all contained more seeds, higher dry-pulp mass and water mass, but not necessarily water content. By approximate estimation, higher proportions of seeds of these bat-figs would have been removed from fruits through the bat consumption, than that of small-sized bird-figs like F. virgata, F. superba, and F. microcarpa. Conclusions: The foraging dispersion of Ryukyu flying-foxes in forests depends on the availability of the most abundant bat-figs that serve as predominant foods. Intermediate levels of crop sizes of theses figs appear most fit with their solitary foraging. Our results suggest that as density and BA coverage of these dominant bat-figs are below a certain level, their effectiveness to attract bats may dwindle and so would their chance of dispersal by bats.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Environmental Science(all)