The aims of this study were to (1) characterize the food resources exploited by fruit bats (Pteropodidae) within an old-growth Malaysian dipterocarp forest, (2) test the viability of the seeds they disperse, and (3) provide an estimate of the proportion of trees that are to some degree dependent upon bats for seed dispersal and/or pollination. Fruit species exploited by bats could be distinguished from those eaten by birds largely on the basis of color (as perceived by human beings). Bat-dispersed fruits were typically inconspicuous shades of green–yellow or dull red–brown, whereas fruits eaten by birds were generally bright orange to red. Dietary overlap between bats and nonflying mammals was relatively high. In contrast to primates and squirrels, which were major seed predators for several of the plant species under investigation, fruit bats had no negative impact on seed viability. A botanical survey in 1 ha of old-growth forest revealed that 13.7 percent of trees (≥15 cm girth at breast height) were at least partially dependent upon fruit bats for pollination and/or seed dispersal.
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Vol. 35 • No. 4