Advertisement

acta ethologica

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 95–99 | Cite as

Geophagy by the Indian short-nosed fruit bat, Cynopterus sphinx (Pteropodidae) while foraging on Madhuca latifolia (Sapotaceae) in Tamil Nadu, South India

  • Valliyappan Mahandran
  • Hanumanthan Raghuram
  • Parthasarathy Thiruchenthil Nathan
Short Communication

Abstract

Geophagy has been reported in many mammals and birds. However, in pteropodid bats, this behaviour has not been reported. Here, we document geophagy behaviour by the pteropodid bat, Cynopterus sphinx, during foraging in the fruiting trees of Madhuca latifolia (Sapotaceae). These bats removed single fruits from the foraging tree and carried it to the feeding roost for consumption. At around 1900 h, we observed three individuals of C. sphinx gleaning over the ground surface by circling flights. The bats landed with their wings spread apart and started licking the soil with head movements. Their ventral body surface rested completely on the ground while consuming the soil. A total of 91 feeding bouts of soil consumption were recorded within 1 h; however, thereafter, this behaviour was not observed. In order to understand the function of geophagy, we quantitatively analysed the composition of minerals in the soil, as well as in the M. latifolia fruits (partially ripe) along with its secondary metabolites from the study site. Our results revealed that the partially ripe fruits contained high levels of secondary metabolites (alkaloids, tannins, coumarins and saponins). The soil contained higher levels of Mg, Ca, Fe, Na and K minerals than the fruits. These findings suggest that bats may gain essential minerals that are low in their fruit diet by consuming soil. In addition, the observed minerals that play a role in detoxification of the secondary metabolites present in the partially ripe fruits that might be detrimental to the consuming bats. Frugivory, nectarivory and folivory are well understood in C. sphinx; however, geophagy behaviour has not been reported in this species so far. This may represent an ‘adaptive behavioural plasticity’ in the foraging behaviour of the observed C. sphinx population.

Keywords

Adaptive plasticity Cynopterus sphinx Fruit bat Geophagy Gleaning 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to the constructive comments of Christian Voigt and the anonymous reviewer on an earlier version of this manuscript. We thank R. Paramaguru (Ideal Analytical and Research Institution, Puducherry) for the mineral and secondary metabolite analyses. We also thank P. Pushparaja Sekaran (London, UK) for the language corrections. Financial support for this study was provided by the University Grants Commission, New Delhi, India through a Major Research Project (No. F.39-641/2010 (SR)) to PTN.

References

  1. Barclay RMR (2002) Do plants pollinated by flying fox bats (Megachiroptera) provide an extra calcium reward in their nectar? Biotropica 34:168–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bates PJJ, Harrison DL (1997) Bats of the Indian subcontinent. Harrison Zoological Museum, SevenoaksGoogle Scholar
  3. Blake JG, Guerra J, Mosquera D, Torres R, Loiselle BA, Romo D (2010) Use of mineral licks by white-bellied spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth) and red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus) in eastern Ecuador. Int J Primatol 31:471–483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bravo A, Harms KE, Emmons LH (2010) Puddles created by geophagous mammals are potential mineral sources for frugivorous bats (Stenodermatinae) in the Peruvian Amazon. J Trop Ecol 26:173–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bravo A, Harms KE, Emmons LH (2012) Keystone resource (Ficus) chemistry explains lick visitation by frugivorous bats. J Mammal 93:1099–1109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brightsmith DJ, Taylor J, Phillips TD (2008) The roles of soil characteristics and toxin adsorption in avian geophagy. Biotropica 40:766–774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burger J, Gochfeld M (2003) Parrot behaviour at a Rio Manu (Peru) clay lick: temporal patterns, associations, and antipredator responses. Acta Ethol 6:23–34Google Scholar
  8. Cipollini ML, Levey DJ (1997) Secondary metabolites in fleshy vertebrate-dispersed fruits: adaptive hypotheses and implications for seed dispersal. Am Nat 150:346–372CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Diamond JM (1999) Evolutionary biology of dirty eating for healthy living. Nature 400:120–121CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Ghanem SJ, Ruppert H, Kunz TH, Voigt CC (2013) Frugivorous bats drink nutrient and clay-enriched water in the Amazon rain forest: support for a dual function of mineral-lick visits. J Trop Ecol 29:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gilardi JD, Duffey SS, Munn CA, Tell LA (1999) Biochemical functions of geophagy in parrots: detoxification of dietary toxins and cytoprotective effects. J Chem Ecol 25:897–922CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Harborne JB (2008) Phytochemical methods: a guide to modern techniques of plant analysis, 3rd edn. Springer, IndiaGoogle Scholar
  13. Kamchan A, Puwastien P, Sirichakwal PP, Kongkachuichai R (2004) In vitro calcium bioavailability of vegetables, legumes and seeds. J Food Compos Anal 17:311–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Klaus G, Klaus-Hugi C, Schmid B (1998) Geophagy by large mammals at natural licks in the rain forest of the Dzanga National Park, Central African Republic. J Trop Ecol 14:829–839CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Krishnamani R, Mahaney WC (2000) Geophagy among primates: adaptive significance and ecological consequences. Anim Behav 59:899–915CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Kunz TH, Braun de Torrez E, Bauer DM, Lobova TA, Fleming TH (2011) Ecosystem services provided by bats. Ann NY Acad Sci 1223:1–38CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Lee ATK, Kumar S, Brightsmith DJ, Masden SJ (2010) Parrot claylick distribution in South America: do patterns of “where” help answer the question “why”? Ecography 33:503–513Google Scholar
  18. Michell AR (1995) The clinical biology of sodium: the physiology and pathophysiology of sodium in mammals. Elsevier Science Ltd, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Morris JG (1991) Nutrition. In: Prosser CL (ed) Environmental and metabolic animal physiology, 4th edn. Wiley-Liss, Inc., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Nathan PT, Raghuram H, Elangovan V, Karuppudurai T, Marimuthu G (2005) Bat pollination of kapok tree, Ceiba pentandra. Curr Sci 88:1679–1681Google Scholar
  21. Nathan PT, Karuppudurai T, Raghuram H, Marimuthu G (2009) Bat foraging strategies and pollination of Madhuca latifolia (Sapotaceae) in Southern India. Acta Chiropter 11:435–441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Raghuram H, Singaravelan N, Nathan PT, Emmanuvel Rajan K, Marimuthu G (2011) In: Zupan JL, Mlakar SL (eds) Bats: biology, behavior and conservation. Nova Science Publishers, Inc, New York, pp 177–188Google Scholar
  23. Ruby J, Nathan PT, Balasingh J, Kunz TH (2000) Chemical composition of fruits and leaves eaten by short-nosed fruit bat, Cynopterus sphinx. J Chem Ecol 26:2825–2841CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Setz EZF, Enzweiler J, Solferini VN, Amêndola MP, Berton RS (1999) Geophagy in the golden-faced saki monkey (Pithecia pithecia chrysocephala) in the Central Amazon. J Zool (Lond) 247:91–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sikes RS, Gannon WL, Animal Care and Use Committee of the American Society of Mammalogists (2011) Guidelines of the american society of mammalogists for the use of wild mammals in research. J Mammal 92:235–253Google Scholar
  26. Singaravelan N, Marimuthu G (2004) Nectar feeding and pollen carrying from Ceiba pentandra by pteropodid bats. J Mammal 85:1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Singer MS, Mace KC, Bernays EA (2009) Self-medication as adaptive plasticity: increased ingestion of plant toxins by parasitized caterpillars. PLoS ONE 4, e4796PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Voigt CC, Capps KA, Dechmann DKN, Michener RH, Kunz TH (2008) Nutrition or detoxification: why bats visit mineral licks of the Amazonian rainforest. PLoS ONE 3, e2011PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Wendeln MC, Runkle JR, Kalko EKV (2000) Nutritional values of 14 fig species and bat feeding preferences in Panama. Biotropica 32:489–501CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg and ISPA 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valliyappan Mahandran
    • 1
  • Hanumanthan Raghuram
    • 2
  • Parthasarathy Thiruchenthil Nathan
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyAlagappa UniversityKaraikudiIndia
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyThe American CollegeMaduraiIndia
  3. 3.Department of Zoology, School of Life SciencesPeriyar UniversitySalemIndia

Personalised recommendations