This paper examines bat-plant interactions by focusing on the fruit diet and food selection of flying foxes (Pteropus rufus) in the littoral forest fragments of Sainte Luce, SE Madagascar. Analyses of faecal samples and opportunistic observations revealed 40 endemic plant species in the diet. The bats mainly eat odorous ripe and juicy berries. No particular fruit colour was predominant in their diet. Both multi- and single-seeded fruits are eaten. Small seeds (1–3.5 mm in length) are usually swallowed whole. Passage through the digestive tract of the flying foxes does not reduce the germination rate of seeds nor the percentage of seeds germinated. This study indicates that the role of flying foxes in both short and long distance seed dispersal for a large number of endemic tree species of the littoral forest should not be underestimated when designing reforestation programs in particular or conservation action plans in general.
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Vol. 4 • No. 1