Erophylla sezekornibuffy flower bat

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Geographic Range

Erophylla sezekorni occurs in the Greater Antilles, including Jamaica and Cuba, some parts of the Bahamas, Caicos, and the Cayman Islands. (Baker, et al., 1978)

Habitat

Buffy flower bats live in subtropical and tropical forests, including pine woodlands. Their roosts are located in hot caves, where temperatures can range from 25 to 28 degrees Celsius (Soto-Centeno and Kurta, 2003). Roosts have been found to contain a few hundred to a few thousand individuals. These bats hang alone or bunched from cave walls and ceilings. Buffy flower bats have been found both in the inside portions of the hot caves where it is dark, as well as exterior where there is more light. Buffy flower bats tend to choose hot caves with only slight climate changes. It is thought that buffy flower bats may visit numerous caves throughout their home range (Goodwin, 1970). These animals have been detected from low to medium levels of elevation; they have been captured in dry washes from sea level to 100 meters elevation (Baker et al., 1978). (Baker, et al., 1978; Goodwin, 1970; Soto-Centeno and Kurta, 2003)

  • Other Habitat Features
  • caves
  • Range elevation
    0 to 100 m
    0.00 to 328.08 ft

Physical Description

Buffy flower bats are medium-sized bats with a head and body length of 65 to 75 mm, and a tail length of 12 to 17 mm. They have a forearm length of 45 to 55 mm and weigh about 16 to 18 g. The upper body is a yellowish brown or buffy color, and lower body is a paler brown color. These animals have bicolored dorsal hairs, which are colorless near the body with the ends tipped a chestnut brown. The head and face is a paler brown color than the rest of the body, with the hairs shorter and unicolored. They have a long narrow nose with a small, but prominent notched noseleaf, which lies on a hairless nasal pad. They have simple ears that are about as broad as they are long. These ears include a tragus with notched edges. The lower lip of buffy flower bats has a split down the middle. They have a long, protractible tongue covered in papillae. The short tail projects past the interfemoral membrane. They have a calcar, helping distinguish them from other, similar species. The skull is defined by a well developed and complete zygomatic arch. The lower molars are cuspidate and include a distinct cutting edge. The dental formula is 2/2, 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, making a total of 32 teeth. They have an elongated rostrum with the nasal region being concave. Bats that live in hot caves, such as buffy flower bats, tend to have lower basal metabolic rate than other related species living in different environments. Two subspecies of E. sezekorni are recognized. (Baker, et al., 1978)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    16 to 18 g
    0.56 to 0.63 oz
  • Range length
    65 to 75 mm
    2.56 to 2.95 in

Reproduction

The mating system of buffy flower bats is most likely harem-polygyny. Single males are found with groups of females in roosts.

Buffy flower bats have one estrous cycle per year. The breeding season is restricted to between February and June. Most prenatal development takes place during the first months of the year, with parturition occurring in the early summer (Baker et. al.,1978). Females trapped in early and late February were found to bear small embryos, and females with well developed fetuses were trapped in April and May. Birth occurs in May and June. Females gather in maternity colonies to raise their young. The young start approaching adult size near August (Baker et. al., 1978). Like most bats, buffly flower bats bear a single offspring each year. (Baker, et al., 1978; Soto-Centeno and Kurta, 2003)

  • Breeding interval
    Buffy flower bats breed once yearly.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs from late February to June.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 (low)
  • Range gestation period
    3 to 5 months
  • Average weaning age
    2 months

Buffy flower bat newborns are born with their eyes open and ears partially erect. They are born naked, although most related phyllostomids possess fur at birth. The newborns have also been recorded to be smaller at birth than other phyllostomids. The small size of neonates is linked to the use of hot caves and lower basal metabolic rates, which slows the rate of development of embryos (Soto- Centeno and Kurta, 2003). Average body mass for newborn buffy flower bats is 4.6 g. They have an average forearm length of 24.0 mm. Newborns are about 23 to 25 percent of the maternal mass and about 44 to 48 percent of the mother’s length (Soto-Centeno and Kurta, 2003). At birth, neonates have pinkish skin and translucent patagia. They are dark brown under the skin on the head and dorsal part of the body. The canine teeth have already erupted at birth (Soto-Centeno and Kurta, 2003). After the young are born the mother licks the young clean and cuts through the umbilical cord. Females nurse their young until they reach independence, within about 2 months after birth. (Baker, et al., 1978; Soto-Centeno and Kurta, 2003)

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

Lifespan/Longevity

Little is known about the lifespan of buffy flower bats, but many phyllostomids regularly live to 10 years in the wild.

Behavior

Buffy flower bat flight is described as straight with slow and deliberate wingbeats (Goodwin, 1970). Females travel between islands to form maternity roosts. These bats are nocturnal and feed at night. Buffy flower bats are highly intolerant of human interaction and disturbance of their habitat and will not continue to live in a cave that has been visited by humans. Buffy flower bats live in colonial roosts of a few hundred to a few thousand individuals. (Goodwin, 1970)

Home Range

Little is known about the home range of E. sezekorni.

Communication and Perception

Little is known about the communication and perception of buffy flower bats. They use echolocation to navigate at night. Given their food preferences, they are likely to use olfaction to find and identify nectar and fruit sources. Most mammals use chemical cues in communication.

Food Habits

Erophylla sezekorni were once considered to be predominantly nectarivorous, although they have cranial characteristics that are not as specialized as are most nectar feeding bats. They do possess characteristics similar to fruit-eating bats. It has been suggested that buffy flower bats are not as reliant on nectar as originally thought, but they do often eat nectar of guava plants. Buffy flower bats seem to eat a combination of nectar, fruit, and insects. They eat the fruits of Panama berry, elder, and turkey berry, with about 85 percent of these bats eating these fruits. Buffy flower bats also eat coleopterans when they can. (Soto-Centeno and Kurta, 2006)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit
  • nectar
  • pollen

Predation

Predators of buffy flower bats have not been reported. They are likely to be preyed on by nocturnal raptors, such as owls and climbing snakes, as are most bats. They roost in inaccessible places, are active at night, and are cryptically colored, reducing their overall risk of predation.

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Many plants rely on these bats to pollinate them such as agave, prickly-pear cacti, other cacti, wild calabash, and night-blooming jasmine. Nine species of ectoparasites are found on E. sezekorni. There are no known endoparasites. (Baker, et al., 1978)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • pollinates

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Buffy flower bats provide important ecosystem services through pollination. Humans benefit directly from their pollination of important food plants.

  • Positive Impacts
  • pollinates crops

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of buffy flower bats on humans.

Conservation Status

Buffy flower bats are currently regarded as threatened, but habitat loss and roost disturbance are immediate concerns. Habitat loss may be a result of rising sea level and flooding of their roosts.

Contributors

Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Sheena Faherty (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor, instructor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Glossary

Neotropical

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

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

colonial

used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

echolocation

The process by which an animal locates itself with respect to other animals and objects by emitting sound waves and sensing the pattern of the reflected sound waves.

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.

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.

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.

nectarivore

an animal that mainly eats nectar from flowers

nocturnal

active during the night

polygynous

having more than one female as a mate at one time

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

Baker, R., V. August, A. Steuter. 1978. Erophylla sezekorni. Mammalian Species, 115: 1-5.

Goodwin, R. 1970. The ecology of Jamaican bats. Journal of Mammalogy, 51: 571-579.

Soto-Centeno, A., A. Kurta. 2003. Description of fetal and newborn brown flower bats, Erophylla sezekorni (Phyllostomomidae). Caribbean Journal of Science, 39: 233-234.

Soto-Centeno, A., A. Kurta. 2006. Diet of two nectarivorous bats, Erophylla sezekorni and Monophyllus redmani (Phyllostomidae), on Puerto Rico. Journal of Mammalogy, 87: 19-26.