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1 September 2000 Nutritional Values of 14 Fig Species and Bat Feeding Preferences in Panama
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Figs are a critical resource for many tropical frugivores, yet they often are referred to as low quality fruits. To determine their nutritional value, both as a group and for individual species, we analyzed 14 fig species from Barro Colorado Island (BCI), Panama, for fiber, tannins, lipids, protein, carbohydrates, amino acids, and minerals. Seeds and pulp were analyzed separately. Fig fruit pulp consisted of about one-third digestible components, mostly carbohydrates with some lipids and proteins. Tannin, lignin, and water-soluble carbohydrates showed considerable variation among species, as did fruit size. Figs contained high amounts of amino acids, such as leucine, lysine, valine, and arginine, and minerals, such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and phosphorus. One species, Ficus insipida, contained the highest concentrations of almost all amino acids, many minerals, and protein. Small figs had as much nutritional value per gram as large figs. Free-standing figs had higher percentages of protein, complex carbohydrates, and ash than strangler figs, which had higher percentages of water-soluble carbohydrates, tannins, and hemicellulose. The guild of fruit-eating bats on BCI included ten common species with diets dominated by figs. Fecal analyses and captures at ripe fig trees showed a consistent pattern of resource partitioning. Small bats preferentially ate small-fruited and strangler figs while large bats consumed mostly large-fruited and free-standing figs. Small bats most often ate F. bullenei, which has high levels of lipid and carbohydrates, and F. yoponensis, which has high levels of protein. Medium and large bats most often ate F. insipida, a nutritionally superior species; their second most eaten species was F. obtusifolia, in which the large size may make it efficient to eat. Each bat ate a variety of fig species, supporting the idea that although no single species of fig may be sufficient to sustain frugivores, a mix of fig species can provide a complete set of nutrients.

Marcia C. Wendeln, James R. Runkle, and Elisabeth K. V. Kalko "Nutritional Values of 14 Fig Species and Bat Feeding Preferences in Panama," BIOTROPICA 32(3), 489-501, (1 September 2000).[0489:NVOFSA]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 September 2000

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