Glossophaga commissarisiCommissaris's long-tongued bat

Last updated:

Geographic Range

Glossophaga commissarisi is found from Southern Mexico to Panama (Hellebuyck 1985). (Hellebuyck, et al., 1985)

Habitat

Glossophaga commissarisi is found in forests and mountainous areas roosting in hollow trees, caves, and houses. These bats are common in evergreen forests, banana groves, and clearings. They are more common in wetter forests than dry forests. Glossophaga commissarisi is generally found close to food sources, flowering plants and fruits (Eisenberg 1989). (Eisenberg, 1989)

  • Range elevation
    400 to 1600 m
    1312.34 to 5249.34 ft

Physical Description

These are medium-sized bats ranging in length from 43 to 65 mm and averaging 9.5 g in weight. Coloration varies from dark brown to lighter brown to reddish brown. The tongue is long and covered with bristle-like papillae. The cheeck teeth are narrow and elongated and the lower incisors are very small. The upper incisors are not procumbent and lower incisors are clearly separated from each other and evenly spaced. The rostrum is shorter than some other nectar-feeding phyllostomids (Nowak 1983, Emmons 1990). (Emmons, 1990; Nowak, 1983)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Average mass
    9.3 g
    0.33 oz
  • Range length
    43 to 65 mm
    1.69 to 2.56 in
  • Range wingspan
    32 to 42 mm
    1.26 to 1.65 in

Reproduction

Little is known of social behavior and mating systems in these bats or their relatives.

Breeding behavior is unknown and pregnancies have occured in various months throughout the year. Pregnancies have been recorded in from January through April, July, and September to October. It is assumed that these are year round breeders and have young when food is plentiful (Nowak 1994, Wilfried 1984). (Nowak, 1983; Wilfried, 1984)

  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs throughout the year.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2

Little is known about parental invesment in these bats. In most bat species, females care for and nurse their young until they become volant, within a few months of birth.

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

The lifespan of G. comissarisi is unknown, but an individual of a related species, G. soricina lived to 10 years in captivity. (Nowak, 1983)

Behavior

Little is known of social behavior in these bats or their relatives. They roost in small to large colonies. A related species, G. soricina is reported to defend small feeding territories. They may become torpid during the day and are active mainly at night. (Nowak, 1983)

Communication and Perception

Glossophaga species emit sound signals through their nostrils. The leaf-like structure of the nose functions like a megaphone. Their typical calls include constant frequency (CF) components followed by a short frequency modulated (FM) component. Constant frequencies are used to pick up objects from distances and aren't very accurate. Frequency modulated calls are used up close to get a better fix on the location of the target (Webster and Jones 1993).

These bats also have keen eyesight and sense of smell. (Webster and Jones, 1993)

Food Habits

Glossophaga commissarisi is specialized for extracting nectar from flowers with their long, papillate tongue. By hovering in the air they insert their tongue and tip of their snout into the blossoms to extract pollen and nectar. They then fly on to the next flower and repeat the process, similar to a humming bird. They also eat soft fruits and insects, especially during the parts of the year when fruits and nectar are unavailable. (Nowak, 1983; Wilson, 1997)

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

Predation

As are most bats, Commissaris' long-tongued bats avoid predation mainly by being active at night, being cryptically colored, roosting in safer structures, and through agile flight. Bats are preyed on by nocturnal or crepuscular birds of prey, particularly owls, and by snakes and other small predators capable of climbing into roosts.

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Glossophaga commissarisi individuals are important pollinators in the ecosystems in which they live. Their feeding habits allow then to cross pollinate plants in the forest and by eating fruits they also provide a seed dispersal service. Quinata bombacopsis is a tree species that benefits from seed dispersal (Wilson 1997). (Wilson, 1997)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
  • pollinates

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Two dozen plant families and more than 500 different species depend on pollination by G. commissarisi and other nectar-feeding bats, many of which are of great ecological or economic value. Glossophaga commissarisi individuals are the only known pollinators of hanging markea vines. Quinata bombacopsis seeds are dispersed by G. commissarisi. This wood is used to make windows, doorframes, firewood, posts, and plywood (Nowak 1994, Wilson 1997). (Nowak, 1983; Wilson, 1997; Nowak, 1983; Wilson, 1997; Nowak, 1983; Wilson, 1997)

  • Positive Impacts
  • pollinates crops

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no negative impacts of G. commissarisi.

Conservation Status

Although local habitat destruction may threaten local populations, these bats remain fairly common throughout their range.

Other Comments

The name Glossophaga is from the greek roots "glossa", meaning tongue, and "phaga", meaning to eat (Webster and Jones 1993). (Webster and Jones, 1993)

Contributors

Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Paul Clemens (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor), 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

agricultural

living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

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

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.

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.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

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

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

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.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year

References

Eisenberg, J. 1989. Mammals of the Neotropics, The Northern Neotropics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Emmons, L. 1990. Neotropical Rainforest Mammals. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

Hellebuyck, V., J. Tamsitt, J. Hartman. 1985. Records of Bats new to El Salvador. Journal of Mammalogy, 66: 783-788.

Nowak, R. 1983. Walker's Mammals of the World 4th edition. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Unversity Press.

Reid, F. 1997. A field guide to the mammals of Central America and Southeastern Mexico. New York: Oxford University Press.

Webster, D., K. Jones. 1993. Glossophaga commissarisi. Mammalian Species, 446: 1-4.

Wilfried, S. 1984. The Lives of Bats. New York: Arco Publishing INC..

Wilson, D. 1997. Bats in Question. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press.