Publication update 22: Catch and release: Novel predation strategy by white-bellied sea-eagle on island flying fox in Peninsular Malaysia demonstrates flying fox swimming ability

Sheema and Reuben just published a short communication, together with Marcus Chua of Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, describing an opportunistic observation from Tioman Island. Big thanks to Adrià López-Baucells of JBRC/SECEMU!!

Marcus created this video to better communicate the paper visually.

View/download the paper: Aziz S.A., Chua M.A.H. and Clements G.R. 2019. Catch and release: Novel predation strategy by white-bellied sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) on island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) in Peninsular Malaysia demonstrates flying fox swimming ability. Journal of Bat Research and Conservation 12(1): 64-66.

Publication update 21: Project Pteropus press release: Durian Industry May Suffer Without Endangered Fruit Bats

Flying foxes pollinate regionally important fruit crop

Kuala Lumpur, 19 September 2017 – Scientists here have discovered that Southeast Asia’s highly popular durian tree is pollinated by locally endangered fruit bats known as flying foxes.

By putting camera traps in durian trees on Tioman Island, Malaysia, researchers collected video evidence showing the island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) pollinating durian flowers, leading to the production of healthy durian fruit. The study has just been published in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

Fig.3
Still shots from a video recording of a flying fox feeding on durian flower nectar.

The spiky tropical durian fruit is highly prized throughout its native region. A ubiquitous icon of Southeast Asian culture, it is also a lucrative industry, generating millions of US dollars in local and international trade. And these economic profits owe a huge debt to bats.

Commonly referred to as flying foxes, large fruit bats of the genus Pteropus are severely threatened by hunting and deforestation. They are often sold and eaten as exotic meat due to an unsubstantiated belief that consuming them can help cure asthma and other respiratory problems.

On top of this, they are also persecuted and killed as agricultural pests, as some people claim that the bats cause damage and economic loss by feeding on cultivated fruits. Consequently, these factors have led to severe declines in flying fox populations worldwide.

Yet these bats actually play very important roles as seed dispersers and pollinators in rainforests, especially on islands. The disappearance of flying foxes could thus have disastrous repercussions for tropical ecosystems. Now, this international team of researchers from Malaysia, France, India, and Thailand, in collaboration with Tree Climbers Malaysia, has found that Southeast Asia’s durian supply could be affected too. Continue reading

Project Update 22, Publication Update 20: Project Limestone Press Release

Scientists and Lafarge Malaysia Collaborate to Study Threatened Land Snails

Kuala Lumpur – Scientists and Lafarge Malaysia recently embarked on a joint study to document the diversity of land snails at limestone hills in Peninsular Malaysia.

A quarried limestone hill in Kinta Valley, Perak, Malaysia. Credit: Junn Kitt Foon. License: CC-BY 4.0

Formed from reefs beneath ancient seas, limestone hills are regarded as “arks of biodiversity” because they can harbour plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth. A recent study showed that at least 445 limestone hills can be found scattered across Peninsular Malaysia.

Research has also shown that limestone hills provide numerous benefits to humans, by storing groundwater, or providing habitat for cave bats that either pollinate commercially important trees like Durian, or reduce pests in rice fields.

To support the construction industry which plays a vital role in the socio-economic development of the country, however, certain limestone hills are being quarried to make cement. Continue reading