Pteropus giganteus has the role on wide distribution of medicinal plants in Kerala

Prasad E. R.*, Dileep P., Drishya P., Sudhanya V. S., Sunojkumar P.

Abstract


Detailed observation were carried out to document the role of Indian flying fox for a distribution of medicinal plants.The study investigated the diet preferences of Pteropus giganteus (Indian flying fox) and its potential role as a pollinator and seed disperser in the north Malabar region of Kerala.  Over one year period, field study was conducted for the identification of food plants and seed dispersal of Pteropus giganteus by direct observations or indirectly by the analysis of eject found on ground.  Observation were made on seven colonies of day roost in undisturbed areas, amongst which six of them were in sacred grooves one in the protected area.  Over 35 different plant seeds were collected from the ejected materials as chewed fruits, fresh seeds or faecal materials.  The result indicates that Pteropus is playing a vital role as a seed disperser in plants like Anacardium occidentale, Areca catechu, Manilkara achras, Mangifera indica and Psidium gujava which are highly demanding plants in the market.  Plants pollinated by this animal include Ceiba pentandra and Cochlospermum religiosum which are economically very important(plants like Ficus religiosa, Mangifera indica,  Artocarpus heterophillus, Cucurbita species, Basia latifolia, Terminelia catappa, Psidium guajava,  Areca catechu, Anacardium occidentale, Anonna squamosa, Manilkara achras and  Psychotria curviflora used for medicative purposes).  Ceiba pentandra is used as a source of silky fibers used in bedding and cushion materials. Kapok seed oil from this plant is a useful raw material in the soap industry. Cochlospermum religiosum is a useful gum yielding plant. The study shows that P.giganteus is important in the forest regeneration and maintenance of sacred grooves and even small disturbance hurt the colonies which tend to shift their roost elsewhere. 


Keywords


Flying foxes; sacred grooves; Kerala

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