Population Size and Natural History of Mariana Fruit Bats (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) on Sarigan, Mariana Islands

Date
2004-10
Authors
Wiles, Gary J.
Johnson, Nathan C.
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Publisher
University of Hawai'i Press
Abstract
Based on count results, we estimated the population of Mariana fruit bats (Pteropus mariannus Desmarest) on Sarigan, Mariana Islands, to number 150-200 bats in 1999, 185-235 bats in 2000, and about 300-400 bats in 2001. Our results, plus those of two previous surveys, indicate that bat abundance on the island probably remained relatively stable at about 125-235 animals during much of the period from 1983 to 2000, then increased suddenly in 2001, most likely due to immigration from a neighboring island. Sarigan's population differs from those of larger islands in the archipelago by usually having smaller roost sizes, typically 3-75 bats, and large numbers of solitary bats that at times comprise up to half of the population. Colonies and smaller aggregations were composed primarily of harems with multiple females, whereas a nearly equal sex ratio occurred among solitary animals. Colonies roosted in isolated coconut trees in open grasslands and in native forest stands of various sizes, but avoided dense coconut forest. An estimated 30-50% of harem and solitary females possessed young in July 1999. Bats were recorded feeding on just six species of plants, which partly reflects the island's impoverished flora. We speculate that fruit bat abundance on Sarigan is limited primarily by food availability rather than hunting losses, in contrast to some other islands in the Marianas. Our study supports the contention that populations of P. mariannus in the northern Marianas are usually sedentary, but that interisland movements of larger numbers of bats may occur rarely.
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Citation
Wiles GJ, Johnson NC. 2004. Population size and natural history of Mariana fruit bats (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) on Sarigan, Mariana Islands. Pac Sci 58(4): 585-596.
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