Food hardness and feeding behaviour in old world fruit bats (pteropodidae)
Old World fruit bats (family Pteropodidae) are common throughout the Paleotropics, where they play an important ecological role as seed dispersers and pollinators. Although many regions host diverse assemblages of fruit bats, mechanisms of resource partitioning are only beginning to be documented.
This study investigates the potential role of feeding behavior in patterns of resource use within a sympatric assemblage of pteropodids from Papua New Guinea. Individuals of Syconycteris australis, Dobsonia minor, Pteropus conspicillatus, Nyctimene albiventer, and Paranyctimene raptor were videotaped during feeding experiments designed to elicit shifts in feeding (biting) behavior by varying fruit hardness. Although significant variation exists among species in biting behavior, the clear association between trophic ecology and feeding behavior seen in New World fruit bats does not exist in this assemblage of Old World species. Rather, the combinations of behavior and morphology exhibited by these bats appear to represent 2 different solutions to the ecological challenge of feeding on relatively hard fruits.