Journal of Tropical Ecology

Habitat structure, wing morphology, and the vertical stratification of Malaysian fruit bats (Megachiroptera: Pteropodidae)

Robert Hodgkison a1c1, Sharon T. Balding a1, Akbar Zubaid a2 and Thomas H. Kunz a3
a1 School of Biological Sciences, Zoology Building, University of Aberdeen, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen, AB24 2TZ, UK
a2 Department of Zoology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 UKM Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
a3 Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology, Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA

Article author query
hodgkison r   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
balding st   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
zubaid a   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
kunz th   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


This study investigated the vertical stratification of Old World fruit bats (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) in relation to habitat structure and wing morphology, in a lowland Malaysian rain forest. In total, 352 fruit bats of eight species were captured within the subcanopy of the structurally complex old-growth forest during 72 306 m2 mist net hours of sampling. Fruit bat species that were grouped in relation to capture height were also grouped in relation to wing morphology – with those species predicted to have more manoeuvrable flight (i.e. lower wing-loadings and lower aspect-ratios) captured in increasingly cluttered airspaces. Thus, small differences in wing morphology are likely to be ecologically significant to the vertical stratification of bats. Hence, habitat heterogeneity may be a key factor promoting fruit bat species diversity in old-growth palaeotropical forests.

(Accepted January 11 2004)

Key Words: Chiroptera; habitat partitioning; Pteropodidae; rain forest; vertical stratification; wing morphology.

c1 Corresponding author. Email: