Further documentation of just how wonderful Eonycteris spelaea is with a new paper out this month in the Journal of Pollination Ecology. Pushpa Raj Acharya is the lead author, and here is a wonderful write-up on the history of Eonycteris spelaea studies and the significance of the study taken directly from the Journal’s press release:
“One of Paul Racey’s first duties as a new lecturer in the University of Aberdeen in 1974 was to act as internal examiner for Anthony Start’s PhD thesis on the ecology of Eonycteris spelaea in peninsula Malaysia. Start had made the intriguing discovery of mangrove (Sonneratia) pollen in the faeces of Eonycteris in a roost 38km from the nearest mangrove swamp, providing convincing evidence of long distance foraging. Forty years later, Racey’s former PhD student and now Professor, Sara Bumrungsri has revealed the critical role of Eonycteris in pollinating Durio and Parkia, with crop values of USD 137 million in Southern Thailand, crucial to local livelihoods. Pushpa Raj Acharya, a Nepali who had already co-authored a monograph on the bats of Nepal, won a scholarship to carry out research for a PhD by Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai and used radiotracking to study the foraging behavior of Eonycteris. He showed that the bats moved up to 8 km between patches of durian and by transferring pollen between patches, were the main agents of cross pollination. A major concern is the conservation status of Eonycteris, colonies of which live in caves, but the numbers of bats in these colonies are decreasing as a result of hunting and disturbance. Durian fruit set is as low as 0 -1.4% in orchards where bats are not seen foraging. The message is clear: no bats – no durian! ”
Pushpa Raj Acharya, Paul A Racey, Sunthorn Sotthibandhu, Sara Bumrungsri (2015). Feeding behavior of the dawn bat (Eonycteris spelaea) promotes cross pollination of economically important plants in Southeast Asia. Journal of Pollination Ecology 15: 44-50.
You can get a copy from Pushpa — email him at pushpa underscore psu at yahoo dot com