Ethanol ingestion affects flight performance and echolocation in Egyptian fruit bats

Francisco Sánchez, Mariana Melcón, Carmi Korine, Berry Pinshow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ethanol, a potential toxin for vertebrates, is present in all fleshy fruits and its content increases as the fruit ripens. Previously, we found that the marginal value of food for Egyptian fruit bats, Rousettus aegyptiacus, decreases when its ethanol content exceeds 1%. Therefore, we hypothesized that, if ingested, food containing >1% ethanol is toxic to these bats, probably causing inebriation that will affect flight and echolocation skills. We tested this hypothesis by flying Egyptian fruit bats in an indoor corridor and found that after ingesting ethanol-rich food bats flew significantly slower than when fed ethanol-free food. Also, the ingestion of ethanol significantly affected several variables of the bats' echolocation calls and behavior. We concluded that ethanol can be toxic to fruit bats; not only does it reduce the marginal value of food, but it also has negative physiological effects on their ability to fly competently and on their calling ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-558
Number of pages4
JournalBehavioural Processes
Volume84
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2010

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Chiroptera
  • Echolocation
  • Pteropodidae
  • Toxins

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