Epomops franquetiFranquet's epauletted bat

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Geographic Range

Franquet’s bat (or Franquet’s epauletted fruit bat) is found in western Africa from Cote d’Ivoire through Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon, south to Angola and Zambia. It is common in most of the countries it resides in, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, and Uganda. (King and Dallimer, 2010; Mickleburgh, et al., 2008)

Habitat

Franquet’s bats are solitary or live in small groups in lowland forests near bodies of water. They prefer moist tropical forests but sometimes forage in non-forested areas. They roost in trees ranging from the size of shrubs to those over 6 meters high. (Kingdon, 1974; Mickleburgh, et al., 2008; Van Cakenberghe, et al., 1999)

Physical Description

Epomops franqueti is a member of the family Pteropodidae. It can be distinguished from other pteropodids by distinctive serrated ridges at the back of its palate. Its furry coat varies from deep orange to dark brown in color, and it has a white stomach, pale yellow inner-wing surfaces, and prominent white shoulder patches. Epomops franqueti also has large upper lips to aid in feeding on fruits and flowers, and lacks a tail. Males have forearms between 88 and 100 mm long, while females have forearms between 86 and 94 mm. Males generally weigh between 123 g and 158 g and females usually weigh between 78 g and 130 g. The ears of this species generally range from 25 to 27 mm. (Kingdon, 1974; Rosevear, 1965; Van Cakenberghe, et al., 1999)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    78 to 158 g
    2.75 to 5.57 oz
  • Range length
    140 to 178 mm
    5.51 to 7.01 in
  • Average wingspan
    60.96 cm
    24.00 in

Reproduction

No information is available on the mating systems of Epomops franqueti.

Franquet’s epaulleted fruit bats do not have a fixed breeding season but instead, breed throughout the year. There is no additional information regarding the reproductive behavior of this species. (Jones, 1972; Kingdon, 1974)

  • Breeding interval
    Franquet's bat breeds many times throughout the year.

No information is available concerning parental investment in Epomops franqueti. As a mammal, however, females nurse their young until they are weaned.

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

Lifespan/Longevity

No information is available on the lifespan of Epomops franqueti. However, other Pteropodidae have been known to live up to 30 years.

Behavior

During the day, Epomops franqueti hangs in clusters of leaves in trees, its wings wrapped tightly around itself, with one foot clinging to each side of a branch. It lives alone or in small roosts, and although it is nocturnal, it is awake (although inactive) during the day. Even in captivity, E. franqueti roosts as far away from conspecifics as possible. While defecating, it either holds onto nearby branches by its thumbs and swings its legs down, or it remains hanging by its toes and allows the excrement to drip down the front of its body. (Jones, 1972)

Home Range

No information is available on the home range of Epomops franqueti.

Communication and Perception

This species has a variety of calls. It squawks when it is fighting and emits a nasal shriek when in danger or distress. Males call persistently throughout the night with only short breaks for feeding. Research suggests that these calls are used to attract estrus females. There is no information on whether Epomops franqueti uses phermones or chemical cues to communicate, however, such behavior is common among pteropodids. (Jones, 1972; Kingdon, 1974; Rosevear, 1965)

Food Habits

Epomops franqueti eats fruit by crushing it against the ridges on the back of its palate. When all the juice and seeds are gone, it spits the pulp out onto the ground. Although fruit is its primary diet, E. franqueti also consumes flowers. It uses its hands and wrists to eat and is frequently observed holding onto branches with its thumbs while using one wing to feed. (Jones, 1972)

  • Plant Foods
  • fruit
  • flowers

Predation

Epomops franqueti is popular in the bushmeat trade, and as a result, humans in various countries actively hunt this species. Although little information is available on the major predators of E. franqueti, carnivorous birds and snakes likely prey on them. Their nocturnal lifestyle likely helps them avoid increased predation pressure by diurnal birds of prey. (Mickleburgh, et al., 2009)

Ecosystem Roles

Epomops franqueti is a frugivore and is likely an important seed disperser throughout its range. It also occasionally forages on flowers, which suggests that it may also play a marginal role as a pollinator. Epomops franqueti is also host to a number of endo- and ectoparasites including parasitic protozoa (Hepatocystis brosseti), bacteria (Eperythrozoon), viruses (Ebolavirus), batflies (Nycteribidae and Streblidae), and mites (Binuncus). (Dick and Patterson, 2006; Ewers, 1971; Miltgen, et al., 1977; Uchikawa, 1986)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
  • pollinates
Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • parasitic protozoa (Hepatocystis brosseti)
  • bacteria (Eperythrozoon)
  • viruses (Ebolavirus)
  • batflies (Nycteribidae)
  • batflies (Streblidae)
  • mites (Binuncus)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

In Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria, Epomops franqueti is hunted for their meat. (Mickleburgh, et al., 2009)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Epomops franqueti is loud and can be heard at all hours of the night in Western Africa. In addition, it often feeds on seasonal crops of soft fruit and is therefore viewed as a pest. The species is possibly a reservoir for the Ebola virus, which is transmitted first to apes who then transmit it to humans. Scientists are unsure of the potential transmission mechanisms or how frequently this may occur. (Pourrut, et al., 2007; Rosevear, 1965)

  • Negative Impacts
  • injures humans
    • carries human disease
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Epomops franqueti is listed as a species of least concern according to the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. Their large population appears to be stable with no serious threats.

Other Comments

Some researchers have suggested that Epomops franqueti be divided into two subspecies: Epomops franqueti franqueti and Epomops franqueti strepitans. Epomops franqueti franqueti is found in the eastern region of the geographic range of the species and seems to be slightly larger than E. franqueti strepitans, found in the western part of the range. The lower portion of Niger is the meeting ground for these two subspecies. (Rosevear, 1965)

Contributors

Rachel Krumbein (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, John Berini (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Glossary

Ethiopian

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

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

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.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

food

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

frugivore

an animal that mainly eats fruit

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

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

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.

riparian

Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

sexual

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

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

tropical

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

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.

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.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year

References

Delany, M., D. Happold. 1979. Ecology of African mammals. New York: Longman Group Limited.

Desroche, K., M. Fenton, W. Lancaster. 2007. Echolocation and the thoracic skeletons of bats: a comparative morphological study. Acta Chiropterologica, 12/2: 483-484.

Dick, C., B. Patterson. 2006. Bat flies - obligate ectoparasites of bats. Pp. 179-194 in S Morand, B Krasnov,, R Poulin, eds. Micromammals and Macroparasites: From Evolutionary Ecology to Management. Tokyo: Springer-Verlag.

Ewers, W. 1971. Eperythrozoon mariboi sp.nov., (Protophyta: Order Rickettsiales) a parasite of red blood cells of the flying fox Pteropus macrotis epularius in New Guinea. Parasitology, 63: 261-269.

Ifuta, N., H. Gevaerts, E. Kuhn. 1988. Thyroid Hormones, Testosterone, and Estradiol-17b in Plasma of Epomops frangueti (Tomes, 1860) (Chiroptera) in the Rain Forest of the Equator. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 69/3: 378-380.

Ifuta, N., H. Gevaerts. 1987. REPRODUCTIVE-CYCLE OF EPOMOPS-FRANQUETI (TOMES, 1860) (CHIROPTERA) OF THE KISANGANI REGION. ANNALES DE LA SOCIETE ROYALE ZOOLOGIQUE DE BELGIQUE, 117/1: 100.

Jones, C. 1972. Comparative ecology of three pteropid bats in Rio Muni, West Africa. Journal of Zoology, 167/3: 353-370.

King, T., M. Dallimer. 2010. The fruit bats (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) of the Lesio-Louna Reserve, Bateke Plateau, Republic of Congo. Mammalia, 74/1: 63-69.

Kingdon, J. 1974. East African Mammals vol. 2A (Insectivores and Bats). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Mickleburgh, S., A. Hutson, W. Bergmans, J. Fahr, J. Juste. 2008. "Epomops franqueti" (On-line). IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species. Accessed March 21, 2011 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/7909/0.

Mickleburgh, S., K. Waylen, P. Racey. 2009. Bats as bushmeat: a global review. Oryx, 43/2: 217-234.

Miltgen, F., I. Landau, G. Rossin, C. Erard. 1977. Hepatocystis brosseti n. sp. Haemproteidae, parasite of Epomops franqueti, Pteropinae, in Gabon. Ann Parasitol Hum Comp, 52/6: 589-596.

Okia, N. 1974. Breeding in Franquet's Bat, Epomops franqueti (Tomes), in Uganda. Journal of Mammology, 55/2: 462-465.

Pourrut, X., A. Delicat, P. Rollin, T. Ksiazek, J. Gonzalez, E. Leroy. 2007. Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Zaire ebolavirus Antibody Prevalence in the Possible Reservoir Bat Species. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 196/Supplement 2: S176-S183.

Rosevear, D. 1965. The Bats of West Africa. Kent, United Kingdom: Eyre and Spottiswoode Limited.

Uchikawa, K. 1986. Mites of the genus Binuncus Radford (Trombidiformes, Myobiidae) and information on host taxonomy deduced from them. Journal of Parasitology, 72/2: 257-270.

Van Cakenberghe, V., F. De Vree, H. Leirs. 1999. On a collection of bats (Chiroptera) from Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mammalia, 63/3: 291-322.