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Small Pteropodid Bats are Important Pollinators of Durian in Terengganu, Malaysia

Suey Yee Low, Muhammad Nur Hamzah Zulfemi, Siti Nor Shaffinaf Mohamad Shukri, Aida Hidayah Abu Samah, Hasrul Zaman Hassan Basri, Muhammad Haffidzie Mohd Shuhaimi, Harizah Nadiah Hamzah, Muhammad Aidil Zahidin, Muhammad Syamsul Aznan Ariffin and Nor Zalipah Mohamed

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 44, Issue 3, August 2021

DOI: https://doi.org/10.47836/pjtas.44.3.05

Keywords: Conspecific pollen, Cynopterus brachyotis, Durio lowianus, Durio zibethinus, Eonycteris spelaea, pollen load, pollinating agent

Published on: 30 August 2021

Bats are often misunderstood as agricultural pests and have received little attention for conservation efforts. However, bats are critical pollinators to commercially important agricultural products, such as durians. This study intends to confirm the role of small pteropodid bats as pollinating agents to flowering durian trees. Samplings were conducted in April 2018 to record bats visiting the flowers of two durian species, Durio zibethinus and Durio lowianus at Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) Jerangau, Terengganu. Captured bats were swabbed for conspecific pollen load on their bodies to determine their potential role as pollinators. One hundred thirty-one (131) pollen swabs were collected from three pteropodid bat species: Eonycteris spelaea Dobson, Cynopterus brachyotis Dobson, and Cynopterus horsfieldii Gray. Only E. spelaea and C. brachyotis, however, were found with conspecific pollen loads on their bodies. Between the two, E. spelaea showed a higher potential to be the pollinating agent for the durian trees. Hence, they recorded more individuals carrying many conspecific pollen grains while visiting the trees. Thus, this finding will hopefully reduce the misconceptions held on bats and conserve them in Malaysia.

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