Fruit bats adjust their foraging strategies to urban environments to diversify their diet

Katya Egert-Berg, Michal Handel, Aya Goldshtein, Ofri Eitan, Ivailo Borissov, Yossi Yovel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Urbanization is one of the most influential processes on our globe, putting a great number of species under threat. Some species learn to cope with urbanization, and a few even benefit from it, but we are only starting to understand how they do so. In this study, we GPS tracked Egyptian fruit bats from urban and rural populations to compare their movement and foraging in urban and rural environments. Because fruit trees are distributed differently in these two environments, with a higher diversity in urban environments, we hypothesized that foraging strategies will differ too. Results: When foraging in urban environments, bats were much more exploratory than when foraging in rural environments, visiting more sites per hour and switching foraging sites more often on consecutive nights. By doing so, bats foraging in settlements diversified their diet in comparison to rural bats, as was also evident from their choice to often switch fruit species. Interestingly, the location of the roost did not dictate the foraging grounds, and we found that many bats choose to roost in the countryside but nightly commute to and forage in urban environments. Conclusions: Bats are unique among small mammals in their ability to move far rapidly. Our study is an excellent example of how animals adjust to environmental changes, and it shows how such mobile mammals might exploit the new urban fragmented environment that is taking over our landscape.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123
JournalBMC Biology
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Bats
  • Behavior
  • Foraging
  • GPS
  • Urbanization

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