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Seawater body dipping behaviour of the Mauritian flying fox

Citation

Seegobin, Vashist (2019), Seawater body dipping behaviour of the Mauritian flying fox, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1c59zw3rc

Abstract

The Mauritian flying fox (Pteropus niger) is the last surviving fruit bat species on Mauritius and is currently Endangered. The species faces threats as only 4.4% of habitats with high native content remains, however highly fragmented and invaded by alien species. Furthermore, stochastic events such as cyclones negatively impact food resources availability and likely encourage flying foxes to explore alternative ways to complement their diet in situation of food shortages. We organized various trips after extensive stochastic events to observe flying foxes attempting to dip their lower body part in the sea. Around 15 seawater body dipping instances were observed. Each time, the flying fox would clumsily dip itself into the water and lick their wet fur immediately after. This shows the species’ behavioral versatility and plausibly their resilience ability and local adaptation to particular opportunities within their environment. These observations potentially unravel an alternative way for flying foxes to complement minerals intake. The situation might also emphasize the decline in the species native foraging habitats quality and consequently prompts long-term conservation measures. Restoration of native forests from invasive alien species could maximize diverse native fruits availability all year round, thus limiting chances of food shortages for flying foxes.

Methods

All data collected were based on observation