When these animals live in colonies and competition for food is stiff, they fly up to 95 kilometres to suitable fruit trees and only return to their roosts the following morning. They excrete the seeds of the fruit they consume in their droppings, disseminating them across huge areas as they go.

In this way, the fruit bats contribute to the species and genetic diversity of forests, which can only thrive if frugivores such as fruit bats provide seed dispersal services. Thanks to long-distance transportation by the bats, young trees can germinate and grow in environments where there is no direct competition from their conspecifics and away from herbivores specialised in their consumption. In this way, new forests can spring up even in cleared areas.

Large-scale seed dispersal

The researchers used GPS transmitters to track the flight paths of the straw-coloured fruit bats, in addition to which they measured the time it takes to disseminate the seeds after ingestion in feeding experiments.