Press Release
Research Links Bats to Growth of Durian, the “World’s Stinkiest Fruit”

Press Releases

Research Links Bats to Growth of Durian, the “World’s Stinkiest Fruit”

Published on November 21, 2019
Written by Admin


First Study Providing Evidence Durian Flowers in Sulawesi are Pollinated by Bats –
Cave Nectar Bat and Two Flying Fox Species are Vitally Important for Durian

AUSTIN, TX (November 21, 2019) – New research offers direct evidence for the pollination of durian flowers by three species of bat. Despite its reputation for an overpowering smell, being known as the “world’s stinkiest fruit,” the durian is a commercially important food crop for Southeast Asia and used extensively in a variety of dishes.

agavedurian
Close up shot of the Durian Flowers in Sulawesi.
Photo by Jayadi S. Shehrazade / BCI

The paper titled “Contributions of bats to the local economy through durian pollination in Sulawesi, Indonesia” was authored by Sheherazade, a former recipient of a Bat Conservation International’s (BCI) Student Scholarship, as well as researchers Holly K. Ober and Susan M. Tsang.

The researchers’ experiments uncovered the direct correlation between multiple bat species and the pollination of the durian plant. The research took place on Sulawesi, one of the four Greater Sunda Islands, an area governed by Indonesia. Linking the bats to the successful growth of durian underscores the ecological importance of bats for habitats and for human economies.

Bushmeat hunting of bats is common in Sulawesi, and the authors aim to curb this activity by emphasizing the importance of bats for successful growth of the agriculturally important durian.

Report findings include:

  • Three bat species were observed pollinating durian flowers; the small Cave nectar bat (Eonycteris spelaea), the larger Black flying fox (Pteropus alecto), and the Sulawesi flying fox (Acerodon celebensis).
  • Using an advanced camera trap system, the researchers could positively identify the pollinating species and obtain detailed records of their interactions with the durian flowers.
  • Durian flowers accessible to bats had much higher rates of pollination.
  • Using bio-economic data, the researchers estimate the value of the bat pollinators as $117 per hectare during the fruiting season.
  • Overall presence of bats positively influenced the production of semi-wild durian in the surveyed areas.

 

“I want people to see these bats and remember that they help maintain the forest and supply people with their favorite durian fruits,” said Sheherazade. “I also want the people of Sulawesi to realize the importance of these bats to deter them from hunting them for bushmeat or disturbing their colonies.”

“This paper from Sheherazade and others highlights the ability of conservation research to bring to light connections between bats and human prosperity,” said Mylea Bayless at BCI. “The durian is a vitally important food in Southeast Asia, and bats directly benefit the plant through pollination. We applaud the work of these researchers and others that are working diligently to protect bat species around the world.”

BCI’s student scholarship program provides select researchers from around the globe with needed financing and material support. Visit www.batcon.org/grants for more information.

To read the full report on bats and durian, visit https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/btp.12712.

About Bat Conservation International

The mission of Bat Conservation International is to conserve the world’s bats and their ecosystems to ensure a healthy planet. For more information, visit www.batcon.org.

Media Contact: Javier Folgar
Bat Conservation International
Tel: 512.327.9721 ext. 410
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


###

Stay up to date with BCI

Sign up and receive timely bat updates

BCI relies on the support of our amazing members around the world.

Our mission is to conserve the world’s bats and their ecosystems to ensure a healthy planet.

Please join us or donate so our work can continue.