Chemical ecology of fruit bat foraging behavior in relation to the fruit odors of two species of paleotropical bat-dispersed figs (Ficus hispida and Ficus scortechinii)

Robert Hodgkison, Manfred Ayasse, Elisabeth K V Kalko, Christopher Häberlein, Stefan Schulz, Wan Aida Wan Mustapha, Zubaid Akbar Mukhtar Ahmad, Thomas H. Kunz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

We investigated the fruit odors of two bat-dispersed fig species in the Paleotropics, in relation to the foraging behavior of fruit bats, to test the following hypotheses: 1) fruit odor plays a critical role for detection and selection of ripe figs by fruit bats; 2) bat-dispersed fig species are characterized by the same, or similar, chemical compounds; and 3) total scent production, in bat-dispersed figs, increases when fruits ripen. We performed bioassays to test the effect of both natural and synthetic fig fruit odors on the foraging behavior of the short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus brachyotis)-an important disperser of figs within the study area. Fruit bats responded to both visual and chemical (olfactory) cues when foraging for figs. However, the strongest foraging reaction that resulted in a landing or feeding attempt was almost exclusively associated with the presence of a ripe fruit odor-either in combination with visual cues or when presented alone. Fruit bats also used fruit odors to distinguish between ripe and unripe fruits. By using gas chromatography (GC) and GC/mass spectrometry (MS), a total of 16 main compounds were identified in the ripe fruit odor of Ficus hispida and 13 in the ripe fruit odor of Ficus scortechinii-including alcohols, ketones, esters, and two terpenes. Additional compounds were also recorded in F. hispida, but not identified-four of which also occurred in F. scortechinii. Total scent production increased in both species when fruits ripened. Both natural and synthetic fruit odors resulted in feeding attempts by bats, with no feeding attempts elicited by unscented controls. Reaction rates to natural fruit odors were higher than those to synthetic blends.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2097-2110
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Volume33
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007

Fingerprint

Ficus hispida
Cynopterus
chemical ecology
Ficus
figs
Odors
Ecology
foraging behavior
Fruits
odor
Fruit
fruit
odors
foraging
fruits
bat
Chiroptera
Odorants
Gas chromatography
Cues

Keywords

  • Chiroptera
  • Co-evolution
  • Foraging ecology
  • Frugivory
  • Fruit scent
  • Moraceae
  • Old world tropics
  • Olfaction
  • Pteropodidae
  • Seed dispersal syndromes
  • Sensory ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry

Cite this

Chemical ecology of fruit bat foraging behavior in relation to the fruit odors of two species of paleotropical bat-dispersed figs (Ficus hispida and Ficus scortechinii). / Hodgkison, Robert; Ayasse, Manfred; Kalko, Elisabeth K V; Häberlein, Christopher; Schulz, Stefan; Wan Mustapha, Wan Aida; Mukhtar Ahmad, Zubaid Akbar; Kunz, Thomas H.

In: Journal of Chemical Ecology, Vol. 33, No. 11, 11.2007, p. 2097-2110.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hodgkison, Robert ; Ayasse, Manfred ; Kalko, Elisabeth K V ; Häberlein, Christopher ; Schulz, Stefan ; Wan Mustapha, Wan Aida ; Mukhtar Ahmad, Zubaid Akbar ; Kunz, Thomas H. / Chemical ecology of fruit bat foraging behavior in relation to the fruit odors of two species of paleotropical bat-dispersed figs (Ficus hispida and Ficus scortechinii). In: Journal of Chemical Ecology. 2007 ; Vol. 33, No. 11. pp. 2097-2110.
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