Home ranges, directionality and the influence of moon phases on the movement ecology of Indian flying fox males in southern India

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Abstract

Flying foxes of the genus Pteropus are amongst the largest fruit bats and potential long-range pollinators and seed dispersers in the paleotropics. Pteropus giganteus (currently P. medius) is the only flying fox that is distributed throughout the Indian mainland, including in urban and rural areas. Using GPS telemetry, we mapped the home ranges and examined flight patterns in P. giganteus males across moon phases in a semi-urban landscape in southern India. Home range differed between the tracked males (n=4), likely due to differences in their experience in the landscape. We found that nightly time spent outside the roost, distance commuted and the number of sites visited by tracked individuals did not differ significantly between moon phases. In 61% of total tracked nights across bats, the first foraging site was within 45° of the emergence direction. At the colony-level, scan-based observations showed emergence flights were mostly in the northeast (27%), west (22%) and southwest (19%) directions that could potentially be related to the distribution of foraging resources. The movement ecology of fruit bats in relation to the pollination and seed dispersal services they provide requires to be investigated in future studies.

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Murugavel, B., Kandula, S., Somanathan, H., & Kelber, A. (2023). Home ranges, directionality and the influence of moon phases on the movement ecology of Indian flying fox males in southern India. Biology Open, 12(2). https://doi.org/10.1242/bio.059513

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