e-ISSN 2231-8542
ISSN 1511-3701

Home / Regular Issue / JTAS Vol. 44 (3) Aug. 2021 / JTAS-2234-2021


Small Pteropodid Bats are Important Pollinators of Durian in Terengganu, Malaysia

Suey Yee Low, Muhammad Nur Hamzah Zulfemi, Siti Nor Shaffinaf Mohamad Shukri, Aida Hidayah Abu Samah, Hasrul Zaman Hassan Basri, Muhammad Haffidzie Mohd Shuhaimi, Harizah Nadiah Hamzah, Muhammad Aidil Zahidin, Muhammad Syamsul Aznan Ariffin and Nor Zalipah Mohamed

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 44, Issue 3, August 2021


Keywords: Conspecific pollen, Cynopterus brachyotis, Durio lowianus, Durio zibethinus, Eonycteris spelaea, pollen load, pollinating agent

Published on: 30 August 2021

Bats are often misunderstood as agricultural pests and have received little attention for conservation efforts. However, bats are critical pollinators to commercially important agricultural products, such as durians. This study intends to confirm the role of small pteropodid bats as pollinating agents to flowering durian trees. Samplings were conducted in April 2018 to record bats visiting the flowers of two durian species, Durio zibethinus and Durio lowianus at Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) Jerangau, Terengganu. Captured bats were swabbed for conspecific pollen load on their bodies to determine their potential role as pollinators. One hundred thirty-one (131) pollen swabs were collected from three pteropodid bat species: Eonycteris spelaea Dobson, Cynopterus brachyotis Dobson, and Cynopterus horsfieldii Gray. Only E. spelaea and C. brachyotis, however, were found with conspecific pollen loads on their bodies. Between the two, E. spelaea showed a higher potential to be the pollinating agent for the durian trees. Hence, they recorded more individuals carrying many conspecific pollen grains while visiting the trees. Thus, this finding will hopefully reduce the misconceptions held on bats and conserve them in Malaysia.

  • Acharya, P. R., Racey, P. A., Sotthibandhu, S., & Bumrungsri, S. (2015). Feeding behaviour of the dawn bat (Eonycteris spelaea) promotes cross pollination of economically important plants in Southeast Asia. Journal of Pollination Ecology, 15(7), 44-50.

  • Ahmad Yazid, N. N., Gunawan, S. H., Roslan, A., Nor Zalipah, M., & Abdullah, M. T. (2019). Note on pollen and seeds dispersed by pteropodid bats in Kenyir Forest Area, Terengganu. In M. T. Abdullah, A. Mohammad, M. Nor Zalipah, & M. S. Lola (Eds.), Greater Kenyir landscape-social development and environmental sustainability: From ridge to reef (pp. 171-179). Springer.

  • Aziz, S. A., Clements, G. R., McConkey, K. R., Srithongchuay, T., Pathil, S., Abu Yazid, M. N. H., Campos-Arciez, A, Forget, P., & Bumrungsri, D. (2017). Pollination by the locally endangered island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) enhances fruit production of the economically important durian (Durio zibenthinus). Ecology and Evolution, 7(21), 8670-8684.

  • Aziz, S. A., Olival, K. J., Bumrungsri, S., Richards, G. C., & Racey, P. A. (2016). The conflict between pteropodid bats and fruit growers: Species, legislation and mitigation. In C. C. Voigt & T. Kingston (Eds.), Bats in the anthropocene: Conservation of bats in a changing world (pp. 377-426). Springer.

  • Bumrungsri, S., Lang, D., Harrower, C., Sripaoraya, E., Kitpipit, K., & Racey, P. A. (2013). The dawn bat, Eonycteris spelaea Dobson (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) feeds mainly on pollen of economically important food plants in Thailand. Acta Chiropterologica, 15(1), 95-104.

  • Bumrungsri, S., Leelapaibul, W., & Racey, P. A. (2007). Resource partitioning in sympatric Cynopterus bats in lowland tropical rain forest, Thailand. Biotropica, 39(2), 241-248.

  • Bumrungsri, S., Sripaoraya, E., Chongsiri, T., Sridith, K., & Racey, P. A. (2009). The pollination ecology of durian (Durio zibethinus, Bombacaceae) in southern Thailand. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 25(1), 85-92.

  • Courts, S. E. (1998). Dietary strategies of the Old World fruit bats (Megachiroptera, Pteropodidae): How do they obtain sufficient protein. Mammal Review, 28(4), 185-194.

  • Field, A. (2013). Discovering statistical using IBM SPSS statistics (4th ed.). Sage Publications.

  • Fleming, T. H., & Kress, W. J. (2013). The ornaments of life, coevolution and conservation in the tropics. The University of Chicago Press.

  • Fleming, T. H., & Muchhala, N. (2008). Nectar-feeding bird and bat niches in two worlds: Pantropical comparisons of vertebrate pollination systems. Journal of Biogeography, 35(5), 764-780.

  • Fleming, T. H., Geiselman, C., & Kress, W. J. (2009). The evolution of bat pollination: A phylogenetic perspective. Annals of Botany, 104(6), 1017-1043.

  • Francis, C. M. (2008). A field guide to the mammals of South-East Asia. New Holland Publishers.

  • Fujita, M. S., & Tuttle, M. D. (1991). Flying foxes (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae): Threatened animals of key ecological and economic importance. Conservation Biology, 5(4), 455-463.

  • Gentry, A. H. (1974). Flowering phenology and diversity in tropical Bignoniaceae. Biotropica, 6(1), 64-68.

  • Gould, E. (1978). Foraging behavior of Malaysian nectar-feeding bats. Biotropica, 10(3), 184-193.

  • Heithaus, E. R., Fleming, T. H., & Opler, P. A. (1975). Foraging patterns and resource utilization in seven species of bats in a seasonal tropical forest. Ecology, 56(4), 841-854.

  • Heithaus, E. R., Opler, P. A., & Baker, H. G. (1974). Bat activity and pollination of Bauhinia pauletia: Plant-pollinator coevolution. Ecology, 55(2), 412-419.

  • Horner, M. A., Fleming, T. H., & Sahley, C. T. (1998). Foraging behaviour and energetics of a nectar-feeding bat, Leptonycteris curasoae (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae). Journal of Zoology, 244(4), 575-586.

  • Idris, S. (2011). Durio of Malaysia. Malaysia Agricultural Research and Development Institute.

  • Kingston, T., Lim, B. L., & Zubaid, A. (2006). Bats of Krau Wildlife Reserve. Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

  • Kunz, T. H., de Torrez, E. B., Bauer, D., Lobova, T., & Fleming, T. H. (2011). Ecosystem services provided by bats. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1223(1), 1-38.

  • Lim, T. K., & Luders, L. (1998). Durian flowering, pollination and incompatibility studies. Annals of Applied Biology, 132(1), 151-165.

  • Lim, V. C., Ramli, R., Bhassu, S., & Wilson, J. J. (2018). Pollination implications of the diverse diet of tropical nectar-feeding bats roosting in an urban cave. PeerJ, 6, e4572.

  • Marshall, A. G. (1983). Bats, flowers and fruit: Evolutionary relationships in the Old World. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 20(1), 115-135.

  • Mazda, Y., Magi, M., Ikeda, Y., Kurokawa, T., & Asano, T. (2006). Wave reduction in mangrove forest dominated by Sonneratia sp.. Wetlands Ecology and Management, 14(4), 365-378.

  • Mohamed, N. Z. (2014). The role of nectar-feeding bats (Pteropodidae) in pollination ecology of the genus Sonneratia at Setiu mangrove areas, Terengganu, Malaysia [Unpublished Doctoral dissertation]. University of Bristol.

  • Mohamed, N. Z., & Adzemi, A. F. (2017). Experimental pollinator exclusion of Sonneratia alba suggest bats are more important pollinator agents than moths. Journal of Sustainability Science and Management, (Special Issue 3), 17-23.

  • Mohd Lokman, H., & Sulong, I. (2001). Mangroves of Terengganu. Penerbit Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.

  • Mohd-Azlan, J., Kaicheen, S. S., Lok, L., & Lawes, M. J. (2019). The role of forest fragments in small mammal conservation in an oil palm plantation in Northern Sarawak, Borneo. Journal of Oil Palm Research, 31(3), 422-436.

  • Mokhzani, C. W. (2017, May 13). King of fruit. The Star.

  • Nor Zalipah, M., Mohd Sah, S. A., & Jones, G. (2016). The potential significance of nectar-feeding bats as pollinators in mangrove habitats of Peninsular Malaysia. Biotropica, 48(4), 425-428.

  • Nor Zalipah, M., Mohd Sah, S. A., & Jones, G. (2020). Flowering biology of mangroves (Genus Sonneratia) and the role of bats in their pollination in Peninsular Malaysia. In M. N. Grigore (Ed.), Handbook of halophytes: From molecules to ecosystems towards biosaline agriculture (pp. 1-16). Springer.

  • Nuevo-Diego, C. E., Stewart, A. B., & Bumrungsri, S. (2019). Pollinators increase reproductive success of a self-compatible mangrove, Sonneratia ovata, in Southern Thailand. Tropical Natural History, 19(2), 88-102.

  • Rajamani, L., Aminah, A., Zubaid, A., Tan, K. H., & Kunz, T. H. (1999). Chemical composition of leaves consumed by the lesser dog-faced fruit bat, Cynopterus brachyotis, in Peninsular Malaysia. Acta Chiropterologica, 1(2), 209-214.

  • Sazima, M., & Sazima, I. (1978). Bat pollination of the passion flower, Passiflora mucronata, in southeastern Brazil. Biotropica, 10(2), 100-109.

  • Sheherazade, Ober, H. K., & Tsang, S. M. (2019). Contributions of bats to the local economy through durian pollination in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Biotropica, 51(6), 913-922.

  • Sritongchuay, T., Hughes, A. C., & Bumrungsri, S. (2019). The role of bats in pollination networks is influenced by the landscape structure. Global Ecology and Conservation, 20, e00702.

  • Start, A. N., & Marshall, A. G. (1976). Nectarivorous bats as pollinators of trees in west Malaysia. In J. Burley & B. T. Styles (Eds.), Variation, breeding and conservation of tropical forest trees (pp. 141-149). Academic Press.

  • Stewart, A. B., & Dudash, M. R. (2017). Flower visiting bat species contribute unequally toward agricultural pollination ecosystem services in southern Thailand. Biotropica, 49(2), 239-248.

  • Stewart, A. B., & Dudash, M. R. (2018). Foraging strategies of generalist and specialist Old World nectar bats in response to temporally variable floral resources. Biotropica, 50(1), 98-105.

  • Stewart, A. B., Makowsky, R., & Dudash, M. R. (2014). Differences in foraging times between two feeding guilds within Old World fruit bats (Pteropodidae) in southern Thailand. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 30(3), 249-257.

  • Syafiq, M., Nur Atiqah, A. R., Ghazali, A., Asmah, S., Yahya, M. S., Aziz, N., Puan, C. L., & Azhar, B. (2016). Reponses of tropical fruit bats to monoculture and polyculture farming in oil palm smallholdings. Acta Oecologica, 74, 11-18.

  • Tan, K. H., Zubaid, A., & Kunz, T. H. (1997). Tent construction and social organization in Cynopterus brachyotis (Muller) (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) in Peninsular Malaysia. Journal of Natural History, 31(11), 1605-1621.

  • Tan, K. H., Zubaid, A., & Kunz, T. H. (1998). Food habits of Cynopterus brachyotis (Muller) (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) in Peninsular Malaysia. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 14(3), 299-307. https://doi:10.1017/S0266467498000236

  • Thavry, H., Cappelle, J., Bumrungsri, S., Thona, L., & Furey, N. M. (2017). The diet of the cave nectar bat (Eonycteris spelaea Dobson) suggests it pollinates economically and ecologically significant plants in Southern Cambodia. Zoological Studies, 56(17), 1-7.

  • Tomlinson, P. B. (1986). The botany of mangroves. Cambridge University Press.

  • Zulfemi, M. N. H., Low, S. Y., Mohamad Shukri, S. N. S., Abu Samah, A. H., Hassan Basri, H. Z., Mohd Shuhaimi, M. H., Hamzah, H. N., Zahidin, M. A., Ariffin, M. S. A., Nor Zalipah, M. (in press). Flower visiting bats to durian trees: Species richness and population size. Journal of Sustainability Science and Management.

ISSN 1511-3701

e-ISSN 2231-8542

Article ID


Download Full Article PDF

Share this article

Recent Articles