Pteropus livingstoniiComoro black flying fox

Last updated:

Geographic Range

Pteropus livingstonii (Comoro black flying fox) is found on only two islands in the Comoro island chain, just off the coast of Africa. These islands are Nzwani, also called Anjouan, and Mwali, also called Moheli. (Emanoil, et al., 1994; Emanoil, et al., 1994)

Habitat

Comoro black flying foxes prefer dense, upland mountain forests which have steep sided valleys. (Hutchins, et al., 2003)

Physical Description

Comoro black flying foxes have black pelage with golden or tawny tinges on the rump, sides of the belly, and at times on each shoulder. They have unique, semicircular ears. Both of these features distinguish them from other pteropodids. They weigh from 500 to 800 grams, have a wingspan up to 1.5 meters, and are about 30 cm in body length. (Emanoil, et al., 1994)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    500 to 800 g
    17.62 to 28.19 oz
  • Average length
    30 cm
    11.81 in
  • Average wingspan
    1.5 m
    4.92 ft

Reproduction

Comoro black flying foxes are polygynous. Females will mate with more than one male throughout their lifetime and males attempt to mate with as many females as they can. Males do not stay around after mating, leaving the females to raise and care for the young. (Hutchins, et al., 2003)

The breeding season for P. livingstonii is from January through June. Gestation lasts 4 to 6 months, after which a single young is born between July and October. Young are weaned within 4 to 6 months of being born. (Hutchins, et al., 2003; Hutchins, et al., 2003)

  • Breeding interval
    Comoro black flying foxes breed once each year.
  • Breeding season
    Comoro black flying foxes breed from January through June.
  • Average number of offspring
    1
  • Range gestation period
    4 to 6 months
  • Range weaning age
    4 to 6 months
  • Average time to independence
    1 years

There was no information specifically on parental investment in P. livingstonii. In general, members of the genus Pteropus form maternity colonies where females and their young gather. Females forage at night and return to their young in the maternity roost to nurse them. (Gould, et al., 1973)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

There is very little information known about the longevity of Comoro black flying foxes in either captivity or in the wild. Other Pteropus species are known to live up to 30 years in captivity, and around 10 years or more in the wild.

  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    15 years
    AnAge

Behavior

Comoro black flying foxes form small roosting groups which are called harems. They have very slow wing beats and often glide instead of flying. They use updrafts of warm air to help extend their gliding distance. Like other pteropodids, Comoro black flying foxes are active in the evening and at night when foraging for fruit. They roost and forage in groups. Comoro black flying foxes do not migrate. (Hutchins, et al., 2003)

Home Range

There is no available information on the home range of Comoro black flying foxes.

Communication and Perception

In general, Pteropus species use olfaction to find fruiting trees and determine if fruit is ripe enough to eat. They have good vision and often use vocalizations to communicate. Like most mammal, chemoreception is important in communicating sexual receptiveness. (Dechmann, 2005)

Food Habits

Comoro black flying foxes are frugivorous. In the dry season they tend to be much more selective on what and where they feed, preferring fig trees. A very important tree for P. livingstonii and P. seychellensis is the giant-leaved fig tree (Ficus lutea). This tree is chosen over many other fig trees. In the rainy season Comoro black flying foxes feed on a larger variety of fruits because more are available. (Sewall, 2008)

  • Plant Foods
  • fruit
  • flowers

Predation

Humans are primary predators of P. livingstonii, both for food and as a secondary result of forest destruction. Other predators have not been documented, but large arboreal snakes and raptors make take young and adults. (Emanoil, et al., 1994)

Ecosystem Roles

Members of the genus Pteropus are important in the dispersal of seeds in the forests they inhabit. They are often seen as keystone species because they maintain forest regeneration patterns. (Hutchins, et al., 2003)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
  • pollinates

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Comoro black flying foxes are sometimes food for humans. They are also important members of their native ecosystems, helping to disperse fruiting tree species and sometimes pollinate plants. (Hutchins, et al., 2003)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • pollinates crops

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no adverse effects of Comoro black flying foxes on humans.

Conservation Status

Comoro black flying foxes are one of the most critically endangered bat species, with an estimated population size of 400 individuals. Rapid destruction of the forest habitats they rely on indicates these flying foxes may become extinct within 10 years.

Contributors

Tanya Dewey (author, editor), Animal Diversity Web, Jess Long (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor, instructor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Glossary

Ethiopian

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

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

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

crepuscular

active at dawn and dusk

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.

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

forest

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

frugivore

an animal that mainly eats fruit

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

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.

nocturnal

active during the night

polygynous

having more than one female as a mate at one time

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.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

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

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

Dechmann, D. 2005. Studying Communication in Bats. Cognition, Brain, Behavior, 9: 4, 9. Accessed November 01, 2006 at http://www.zool.unizh.ch/Research/AnimalBehaviour/Koenig/Researchgroups/BatResearch/Vespertilio/Articol11.pdf.

Emanoil, M., J. Edward, D. Kasinec. 1994. Comoro black flying fox. Pp. 62-63 in M Emanoil, J Edward, D Kasinec, P Lewon, J Longe, K McGrath, Z Minderovic, J Muhr, N Schlager, B Tavers, S Walencewicz, R Young, eds. Encyclopedia of Endangered species, Vol. 1, 1 Edition. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc..

Gould, E., N. Woolf, D. Turner. 1973. Double-note Communication Calls in Bats: Occurrence in Three Families. Journal of Mammology, 54: 1000. Accessed November 01, 2006 at http://www.jstor.org/view/00222372/ap050221/05a00300/2?frame=noframe&userID=8fec23ca@uwsp.edu/01cc99332800501b041a7&dpi=3&config=jstor.

Hutchins, M., D. Kleiman, V. Geist. 2003. Species Account: Livingstone's fruit bat. Pp. 327 in M Hutchins, D Kleiman, V Geist, M McDade, eds. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 12-16, 2nd Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.

Sewall, B. 2008. "Fruit bat foraging strategies on the island of Anjouan (Comoros Islands)." (On-line). ESA 2002 Annual Meeting. Accessed October 31, 2006 at http://abstracts.co.allenpress.com/pweb/esa2002/document/?ID=4545.