Glossophaga longirostrisMiller's long-tongued bat

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Geographic Range

Miller's long-tongued bat has only been found to live in Northern South America, and several islands near the mainland. Specifically, it is found as far North and West as Colombia, as far East as Guyana, and some of the Caribbean islands. It is distributed continuously throughout those regions (Webster, Handley, and Soriano 1998) (Webster 1991). The islands it inhabits includes the Netherlands Antilles (Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire), the continental islands of Margarita, Trinidad, and Tobago, and the Southern Lesser Antillies from Grenada as far North as St. Vincent (not including Barbados) (Webster 1993).

Habitat

Physical Description

Miller's long-tongued bat looks very similar externally to other glassophagine bats. The rostrum is slightly elongate, the cheekteeth are narrow and elongate, and the lower jaw is delicate (Nowak 1997; Webster et al. 1998). As in other bats of this group, the tongue is protrusible and is covered in front and on the sides with many bristle-like papillae (Nowak 1997; Webster et al. 1998). The pelage is bicolored, with the tips of the individual hairs much darker than the pale bases. The dorsal pelage ranges from Wood Brown to Fuscous, and the ventral ranges from Avellaneous to Clove Brown (Webster and Handley 1993). Each subscapular hair has smooth petal-shaped scales, and two scales surround the shaft at any given height (Webster et al. 1998).

Adult males have an average body mass of 13.3 g, and adult females have an average body mass of 12.8 g. However, despite the smaller mass size, females have been found to have significantly larger cranial and forearm lengths than the males. Males have longer canines than the females, averaging 2.32mm versus 2.18mm, respectively (Webster et al. 1998). Measurements recorded by Webster reveal the following (in mm) for males and females respectively: total length, 52-75, 58-80; tail length, 4-12, 4-18; hind foot length, 9-15, 8.5-14; length of ear from notch, 11-18, 11-20 (Webster et al. 1998). The dental pattern is 2/2, 1/1, 2/3, 3/3, with a total of 34 teeth (Webster et al. 1998). Miller's long-tongued bat has a fused palate.

  • Range mass
    12.8 to 13.3 g
    0.45 to 0.47 oz

Reproduction

The reproduction of Miller's long-tongued bat is described as "uniparous bimodal polyestry" (Webster et al. 1998). There are two main periods of pregnancy, one from December to April, and the other from June to October. Lactating females have been found in every month except February. One isolated population was found to have two annual reproductive peaks that correlated with the flowering and fruiting of the Cactaceae and Moraceae that dominated their habitat (Webster et al. 1998).

The female's body mass increases as much as 25% during the three month gestation period. Late term embryos weighed as much as 4.5g, and juveniles have been found in every month except April, with peaks in June and October (Webster et al. 1998).

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual

Behavior

Individuals inhabiting islands of xeric vegetation in the Venezuelan Andes use a solitary foraging strategy, perhaps due to the seasonal asynchrony among food plants and scarcity of flowers or fruit. No evidence suggests that G. longirostris forages in groups even when food is abundant (Webster et al. 1998). Individuals have been found in roosts such as culverts, tunnels, caves, hollow trees, crevices in rocks, and houses and other buildings (Webster et al. 1998). They roost in small numbers (less than twenty) on the outside of caves where it is comparatively cooler and better ventilated than the inside.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

G. longirostris mainly feeds on fruit, pollen, and nectar. Occasionally, some insects are also eaten. The plants from which these bats preferably take their nectar, pollen, and fruit include the columnar cacti (Stenocereus griseus, Subpilocereus repanus, Pilocereus tillianus) and the "palo de mora" (Moraceae: Chlorophora lianus) (Webster et al. 1998). Miller's long tongued bat is very important for pollination and seed dispersal of these plants. The flowering and fruiting cycles of these plant species varies individually so that pollen and fruit are available to the bats throughout the year. Fruit is usually the main source of food for the rainy season and pollen for the dry season (Webster et al. 1998).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Miller's long-tongued bat is very important in the pollination and seed dispersal of the plant species on which it feeds (Webster et al. 1998).

Conservation Status

(WCMC 1997)

Contributors

Todd Brilliant (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

1997. "World Conservation Monitoring Center" (On-line). Accessed December 10, 1999 at http://www.wcmc.org.UK.

Nowak, R. 1997. "Walker's Mammals of the World Online" (On-line). Accessed 12/10/99 at http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/chiroptera/chiroptera.phyllostomidae.glossophaga.html.

Webster, W., C. Handley. 1986. Systematics of Miller's long-tongued bat, Glossophaga longirostris, with description of two new subspecies.. The Museum, Texas Tech University, 100: 1-22.

Webster, W. 7/30/1993. Systematics and Evolution of Bats of the Genus Glossophaga. Texas University Press, no.36: 3-184.

Webster, W., C. Handley, P. Soriano. 6/1/1998. Glossophaga longirostris.. Mammalian Species: 1-5.