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Differences in the foraging behaviour of male and female Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus)

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Male and female animals frequently have different foraging behaviours owing to differences in body size or nutritional demand, or to intraspecific competition. We studied foraging by Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus (E. Geoffroy, 1810)) in Cape Town, South Africa, to test predictions based on differences in nutritional demand during reproduction. Using radiotelemetry, we compared emergence, return, and foraging times of males and females during pregnancy and lactation. We also determined home-range size, habitat use, and use of figs (genus Ficus L.), which are a potential source of calcium for lactating females. During the pregnancy period, males left their roost later than females and were away from the roost for shorter periods. There were no differences in timing of foraging during lactation. Females foraged in native forest more than males did, but home-range size did not differ. There was no evidence that females fed on figs more than males did. Differences in foraging behaviour were not as predicted based on nutritional and energetic differences. The small population may have meant that there was little competition for food, and figs may have provided a profitable source of energy for both males and females. Differences in the timing of foraging are best explained by the need for males to defend roosting sites.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Zoology, University of Cape Town, 7701 Rondebosch, Republic of South Africa.

Publication date: 2011-05-02

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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