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The role of Orii’s flying-fox (Pteropus dasymallus inopinatus) as a pollinator and a seed disperser on Okinawa-jima Island, the Ryukyu Archipelago, Japan

Abstract

The role of the Orii’s flying-fox (Pteropus dasymallus inopinatus) as a pollinator and a seed disperser on Okinawa-jima Island was investigated by direct observations and radio-tracking from October 2001 until January 2006. We found that Orii’s flying-fox potentially pollinated seven native plant species. Its feeding behavior and plant morphological traits suggested that this species is an important pollinator of Schima wallichii liukiuensis and Mucuna macrocarpa. The flying-fox also dispersed the seeds of 20 native plant species. The seeds of all plants eaten by the flying-fox were usually dropped beneath the parent tree, although large fruits of four plant species were occasionally brought to the feeding roosts in the mouth, with the maximum dispersal distance—for Terminalia catappa—estimated to be 126 m. Small seeds of 11 species (mostly Ficus species) were dispersed around other trees, during the subsequent feeding session, through the digestive tracts, with the mean dispersal distance for ingested seeds estimated at 150 ± 230.3 m (±SD); the maximum dispersal distance was 1833 m. A comparison of the seed dispersal of available fruits according to the size of flying-foxes and other frugivores suggested that the seed dispersal of eight plant species producing large fruits mostly depended on Orii’s flying-fox. On Okinawa-jima Island, the Orii’s flying-fox plays an important role as a pollinator of two native plants and as a long-distance seed disperser of Ficus species, and it functions as a limited agent of seed dispersal for plants producing large fruits on Okinawa-jima Island.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Dr. M. Tsuchiya and Dr. A. Hagihara, University of the Ryukyus, for their valuable comments throughout our study. We also thank Dr. M. Yokota and Dr. T. Denda, University of the Ryukyus, for their identification of the plant species, and Dr. S. Matsumura for observations and technical advises for Mucuna macrocarpa. We are indebted to Ms. A. Kubota, Ms. Y. Yoshioka, Ms. K. Sakugawa, Ms. H. Hirota, and Ms. A. Sato, the students of the Laboratory of Ecology and Systematics, University of the Ryukyus, for their assistance during field surveys. Suggestions from two anonymous referees greatly improved the manuscript. We would like to thank Dr. Krzysztof Schmidt and Dr. Matt Hayward for comments and the language correction of the manuscript. We wish to thank the Ministry of the Environment for the permission for survey. This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid from Nippon Life Insurance Foundation, Sasakawa Scientific Research Grant from The Japan Science Society, the Japan Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture (JMESSC) (A-16201009) and the 21st Century COE program of the University of the Ryukyus.

Author information

Correspondence to Masako Izawa.

Appendix

Appendix

Size and weight of fruits and seeds of plants consumed by Orii’s flying-foxes on Okinawa-jima Island

Species Fruit Seed
n Longest axis (mm ± SD) Second longest axis (mm ± SD) Weight (g ± SD) n Longest axis (mm ± SD) Second longest axis (mm ± SD) Weight (g ± SD)
Myrica rubra 59 15.8 ± 3.0 15.6 ± 4.2 2.3 ± 1.3 20 8.9 ± 1.0 6.8 ± 0.6 0.1 ± 0.1
Ficus ampelas 38 8.6 ± 1.2 7.4 ± 0.8 0.3 ± 0.1 No data <0.01
Ficus erecta 12 22.1 ± 1.8 19.3 ± 1.8 3.4 ± 0.9 20 1.7 ± 0.1 1.3 ± 0.1 <0.01
Ficus microcarpa 18 13.1 ± 1.0 11.9 ± 1.4 1.0 ± 0.3 30 1.0 ± 0.2 0.7 ± 0.1 <0.01
Ficus septica 41 24.6 ± 3.1 16.4 ± 4.0 5.7 ± 2.4 20 1.1 ± 0.1 0.8 ± 0.1 <0.01
Ficus superba 29 12.9 ± 1.4 11.6 ± 1.4 0.8 ± 0.3 15 1.1 ± 0.2 0.7 ± 0.1 <0.01
Ficus thunbergii 5 23.0 ± 0.9 18.8 ± 1.0 2.7 ± 0.4 No data <0.01
Ficus variegata 30 28.9 ± 1.9 24.7 ± 2.0 10.6 ± 1.7 No data <0.01
Ficus benguetensis 47 19.3 ± 2.2 15.8 ± 1.9 3.1 ± 1.0 20 1.1 ± 0.1 0.7 ± 0.1 <0.01
Ficus virgata 9 14.1 ± 1.0 13.0 ± 0.5 1.4 ± 0.3 20 1.2 ± 0.1 0.7 ± 0.1 <0.01
Morus australis 35 15.4 ± 1.8 8.7 ± 0.7 0.9 ± 0.2 29 2.0 ± 0.1 1.4 ± 0.1 <0.01
Eriobotrya japonica 10 38.9 ± 3.6 23.1 ± 2.6 11.0 ± 2.9 5 17.3 ± 1.6 12.5 ± 1.7 1.5 ± 0.4
Prunus campanulata No data No data
Prunus persica 21 39.2 ± 3.2 34.4 ± 4.6 29.8 ± 10.1 No data
Melia azedarach 10 16.7 ± 1.0 13.4 ± 1.1 1.7 ± 0.3 10 13.4 ± 1.2 9.0 ± 0.7 0.5 ± 0.1
Malpighia glabra 7 19.4 ± 2.3 15.8 ± 2.2 3.4 ± 1.1 No data
Bischofia javanica 43 12.0 ± 1.1 9.8 ± 0.8 2.0 ± 3.1 No data
Elaeocarpus sylvestris 24 18.2 ± 1.5 12.5 ± 0.6 1.8 ± 0.2 No data
Actinidia rufa 17 22.7 ± 7.5 28.1 ± 8.1 16.3 ± 9.6 20 2.3 ± 0.1 1.3 ± 0.1 <0.01
Calophyllum inophyllum 45 33.9 ± 2.8 33.2 ± 2.9 15.9 ± 3.7 28 26.7 ± 2.0 23.7 ± 1.8 5.4 ± 1.0
Garcinia subelliptica 38 47.6 ± 6.7 35.7 ± 2.8 43.1 ± 13.5 23 19.5 ± 3.1 14.1 ± 2.3 2.5 ± 1.6
Idesia polycarpa 42 10.1 ± 0.9 9.9 ± 0.9 0.6 ± 0.1 No data
Carica papaya 2 97.5 ± 13.4 79.5 ± 9.2 410.0 ± 268.7 No data
Elaeagnus glabra 20 16.6 ± 2.1 10.2 ± 1.1 1.2 ± 0.4 20 15.2 ± 1.5 5.6 ± 0.5 0.2 ± 0.1
Terminalia catappa 40 50.4 ± 6.2 30.0 ± 4.4 12.3 ± 4.0 38 42.6 ± 6.7 26.5 ± 5.0 3.8 ± 1.4
Psidium guajava 9 60.6 ± 5.6 53.2 ± 7.4 100.8 ± 43.6 No data
Syzygium cumingii 21 19.8 ± 2.4 15.0 ± 2.8 3.1 ± 1.3 No data
Syzygium jambos 36 37.7 ± 4.3 29.5 ± 5.4 14.1 ± 5.5 No data
Syzygium samarangense 15 56.2 ± 5.7 55.1 ± 2.7 63.6 ± 13.2 No data
Schefflera arboricola No data No data
Palaquium formosanum 31 40.8 ± 3.7 28.4 ± 2.3 19.4 ± 4.1 16 33.8 ± 2.1 18.2 ± 8.8 4.7 ± 0.6
Planchonella obovata No data No data
Diospyros egbert-walkeri 27 16.4 ± 1.9 10.3 ± 1.8 1.5 ± 0.5 30 11.1 ± 0.9 4.6 ± 0.9 0.1 ± 0.0
Diospyros morrisiana 5 14.4 ± 1.0 13.6 ± 1.0 1.1 ± 0.4 No data
Pandanus odoratissimus 10 75.8 ± 1.8 37.5 ± 2.5 70.6 ± 6.2 No data
Chrysalidocarpus lutescens No data No data

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Nakamoto, A., Kinjo, K. & Izawa, M. The role of Orii’s flying-fox (Pteropus dasymallus inopinatus) as a pollinator and a seed disperser on Okinawa-jima Island, the Ryukyu Archipelago, Japan. Ecol Res 24, 405–414 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11284-008-0516-y

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Keywords

  • Okinawa-jima Island
  • Pollination
  • Pteropus dasymallus
  • Ryukyu Archipelago
  • Seed dispersal