Megaloglossus woermanniWoermann's bat

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Geographic Range

Megaloglossus woermanni is a tropical species ranging from Guinea to northern Angola and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Habitat

Jones (1971) comments that the habitat of M.woermanni is probably highly depedent on the flowers available for food. On Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea, Juste and Perez Del Val(1995) found that M.woermanni occupies various habitats within the island. It is found primarily in cultivated areas, followed closely by lowland rainforest and mossy forest. It has been found to a lesser degree in montane forest. Others report that M.woermanni lives in lowland forest (Kingdon 1984) and elsewhere in the closed high-forest (Rosevear 1965). It has been found at altitudes of up to 2000m (Juste and Perez 1995).

Physical Description

The long-tongue fruit bat is a fairly small pteropodid with head and body length ranging from 60mm to 82mm (Kingdon 1984, Rosevear 1965, and Walker 1997). It has a dark brown appearance dorsally and a lighter brown color ventrally. The hair is fine, soft, and medium in thickness. The tip of the dorsal hair is dark brown and the lower two thirds of the hair is a lighter shade of gray or white. The ventral hair is of a uniform light brown color (Rosevear 1965). Males have a white or cream colored ruff of stiff hair that extends from the sides of the neck to the throat. There is glandular tissue at the base of these hairs that produces a musky odor and makes the pelage oily in texture (Coe 1975). Flight membranes and ears are black. The eyes of M.woermanni are large and it has a long, slender rostrum. Its skull and tongue are highly modified for obtaining nectar. It has a tongue of up to 30 mm in length, terminating in a brush tip of papillae. The dental formula is 2/2 1/1 3/3 2/2 and the teeth are reduced in size compared to other pteropodids (Kingdon 1984, Rosevear 1965). The long-tongued fruit bat has no tail. Its wingspan is between 228 mm and 254 mm (Rosevear 1965).

  • Range mass
    8.4 to 20 g
    0.30 to 0.70 oz

Reproduction

There is no information available on the reproductive habits of the long-tongued fruit bat. Lactating females have been caught in April, July, August, September, December and February (Kingdon 1984, Nowak 1997 and Wolton et al. 1982). This implies that there is not a distinct breeding season but this has not been confirmed. The breeding season may vary geographically. Wolton et al. (1982) suggest that the breeding season in Nimba, Liberia peaks at the height of the rainy season, August to September. Pregnant females have also been collected at variable times ranging from March to September depending on location (Nowak 1997). There is a report of a female being pregnant with two young, but normally only one young is produced (Nowak 1997).

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

Behavior

Little is known about the behavior of M.woermanni. Rosevear (1965) illustrates the bat hanging by its feet from a branch and using its tongue to extract nectar from a flower below it, but he mentions nothing of actually observing this behavior.

The long-tongued fruit bat probably roosts in dense foliage within the rainforest canopy. It has been found roosting in a hut, a house and under banana fronds (Kingdon 1984). There is also a report of two bats being found in a cave. This is considered unusual (Nowak 1997).

Often, in collecting this species, only males are caught (Kingdon 1984, Verschuren 1976 and Wolton et al. 1982). In addition, two males have been found roosting together (Nowak 1997). This leads Wolton et al. (1982) to suggest that single-sex groups are formed at night and that males forage together.

Wolton et al. (1982) report a fair number of recaptures, causing them to call M.woermanni "rather sedentary." Kingdon (1984), however, reports the occasional appearance of bats in places that they have not been found before. He suggests that they may migrate according to which flowers are in bloom. This has not been substantiated.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The diet of M.woermanni consists of nectar and probably pollen. It has a long, protrusible tongue that it presumably dips into an open flower. There is little information on the species of plant it visits or if M.woermanni is a significant pollinator of some species. Kigelia and Musa are the only two species of plants that M.woermanni has been seen visiting (Kingdon 1984). Jones (1971) reports that it is easiest to catch M.woermanni in the agricultural fields of Rio Muni when the coffee plants are blooming most fully.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The long-tongued fruit bat most likely serves as a pollinator of rainforest trees. There has been no research as to how this contributes to their ecosystem. It is, however, highly likely that M.woermanni contributes substantially to promoting tree reproduction in tropical forests, many of which are being logged at a rapid rate.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Occasionally, M.woermanni has be found roosting in huts or homes. It seems to prefer cultivated land and so further encroachments in human space will probably occur.

Conservation Status

There is no active conservation effort for M.woermanni.

Contributors

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

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

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.

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.

sexual

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

tactile

uses touch to communicate

References

Coe, M. 1975. Mammalian ecological studies on Mount Nimba, Liberia. Mammalia, 39: 523-587.

Jones, C. 1971. The Bats of Rio Muni, West Africa. Journal of Mammalogy, 52(1): 121-140.

Juste, J., J. Perez Del Val. 1995. Altitudinal variation in the subcanopy fruit bat guild in Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea, Central Africa. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 11: 141-146.

Kingdon, J. 1984. East African Mammals. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Nowak, R. 1997. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Rosevear, D. 1965. The Bats of West Africa. London: British Museum.

Verschuren, J. 1976. Les cheiropteres du Mont Nimba (Liberia). Mammalia, 40: 615-632.

Wolton, R., P. Arak, H. Godfray, R. Wilson. 1982. Ecological and behavioural studies of the megachiroptera at Mount Nimba, Liberia with notes on microchiroptera. Mammalia, 46: 419-448.