We studied ranging and feeding behavior of Cypriot fruit bats during the summer and winter, which are critical periods with limited food supply and adverse conditions. Seasonal changes in ranging behavior were characterized by a steep increase in the size of core feeding areas and home ranges from summer to winter. Males and females did not differ in the size of summer and winter core areas and home ranges, but they differed in the distance they traveled to summer feeding sites. Summer food consisted of fruits of Ficus carica and flowers of Agave americana. Winter food consisted of dates, fruits of Melia azedarach, Citrus reticulata, C. limon, Myrtus communis, and the flowers of Eucalyptus spp. Males and females differed as to the proportion of time they spent feeding on different food types, which may be explained by sexual differences related to food quality requirements. Summer foraging activity tended to be in areas with water bodies and larger fruit orchards. Winter foraging activity occurred more in areas with larger fruit orchards, a higher number of citrus plantations and date palms, typically located in built-up areas. The body condition of the bats was worse during the summer, which we assume was the result of their more limited diet during this period, making summer a more stressful period for them than winter. Active conservation management of Cypriot fruit bats should include the construction of artificial water sources in the vicinity of fruit orchards, but also controversial practices such as supporting the occurrence of particular nonnative plant species, thereby enhancing food availability in critical times of the year.
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Vol. 97 • No. 3