Lonchophylla thomasiThomas's nectar bat

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Geographic Range

Thomas's nectar bats, Lonchophylla thomasi, are found in Central and South America, in eastern Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Guianas, Amazonian Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia. (Emmons, 1990)

Habitat

These bats occupy lowland rainforests throughout Central and South America. Their distribution is strongly correlated with moist areas such as streams and rivers, and they often roost in caves and hollow trees. Lonchoplylla thomasi can survive in man-made clearings but prefer evergreen tropical forests, and have not been noted above elevations of 851 meters in Venezuela. (Eisenberg, 1989; Emmons, 1990)

  • Range elevation
    851 (high) m
    2791.99 (high) ft

Physical Description

This species can be identified by its moderately long and narrow muzzle with a lower jaw that is longer than the upper jaw. This long rostrum houses a long tongue with papillae present at the tip. Their cheekteeth are narrow and elongate, with a dental pattern 2/2:1/1:2/3:3/3 = 34. Combined head and body length ranges from 45 to 60 mm, and the tail from 8 to 10 mm. Weight is usually between 6 and 14 grams. (Eisenberg, 1989; Emmons, 1990)

Thomas's nectar bats have a well-developed spear-shaped noseleaf that is high and narrow. Their tails are short, barely reaching the middle of the interfemoral membrane, and uropatagia are well-developed. The dorsal surface of these bats is usually a dark brown or rusty color, with the underside lighter. They have relavtively short ears with small traguses. (Eisenberg, 1989; Emmons, 1990; Nowak, 1994)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    6 to 14 g
    0.21 to 0.49 oz
  • Range length
    45 to 60 mm
    1.77 to 2.36 in

Reproduction

Very little is known regarding the mating systems of Lonchophylla thomasi.

While very little has been discovered regarding the reproductive behavior of Lonchophylla thomasi, some information is available about Phyllostomids in general. However, as Phyllostomidae is a large and variable group, this information may not be applicable to this particular species.

Phyllostomids usually produce a single young, with parturtion occuring in times of maximum food availability. These bats are often highly seasonal breeders. Many species exhibit size dimorphism with females larger than males, probably due to the requirements of bearing young; however, this does not seem to be the case among Lonchophylla thomasi. (Eisenberg, 1989)

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • viviparous
  • Breeding interval
    The breeding interval of this species is unknown.
  • Breeding season
    The mating season is unknown.

Parental investment in reproduction of Thomas's nectar bats is unknown. Like all mammals, female L. thomasi must nurse their young.

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

Lifespan/Longevity

The lifespan of this species is unknown.

Behavior

Very little is known regarding the behavior of this species. Lonchophylla thomasi have often been discovered roosting in small groups in hollow trees or small caves, suggesting some social behavior. (Emmons, 1990)

Communication and Perception

While researchers do not know much about communication among Thomas's nectar bats, other phyllostomids use echolocation to communicate and percevive their environments, and it is assumed that Lonchophylla thomasi does so as well. While some bats can see relatively well, their primary sensory ability is through echolocation, in which they emit high-pitched sounds from their noses or mouths and allow them to echo off objects in the environment, giving them a detailed sense of the world around them. Echolocation allows bats to avoid hitting objects when flying at night or in the darkness of caves, and to locate food. Microchiropterans like Lonchophylla thomasi probably emit sounds having only about one-thousandth the sound energy of bats that hunt moving prey, since they feed on stationary plants. Phyllostomids specifically emit sounds with a low amplitude pulse and a brief, highly modulated frequency. Bats cannot receive information about their environments when their ears are plugged, reinforcing the idea that they perceive their surroundings primarily with echolocation. (Eisenberg and Redford, 1989; Nowak, 1994)

In addition to using calls of lower frequency for communication, some Chiropterans generate a vibration throughout their entire bodies when resting and contented. However, it is unknown if Lonchophylla thomasi uses these specific techniques. (Nowak, 1994)

Food Habits

Lonchophylla thomasi are highly modified for feeding on nectar and pollen with their long muzzles and tongues with papillae. They consume mainly nectar, but are also known to eat insects and fruit. (Eisenberg, 1989; Emmons, 1990)

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

Predation

The predators of Lonchophylla thomasi are unknown.

Ecosystem Roles

Lonchophylla thomasi have been strongly implicated in the pollination of night-blooming plants, although the plant species are unmentioned in current available research. (Eisenberg, 1989)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • pollinates

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Positive economic importance is unmentioned in current literature.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

While negative impact of Thomas's nectar bats is not mentioned in current literature, other bat species often carry rabies, which can be transmitted to humans if bitten.

Conservation Status

Lonchophylla thomasi are not considered threatened or endangered.

Contributors

Matthew Wund (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Kari Santoro (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor, instructor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

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

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.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

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

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

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

tropical

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

vibrations

movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others

viviparous

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

References

Buzato, S., A. Franco. 1992. Tetrastylis ovalis: A second case of bat-pollinated passionflower (Passifloraceae). Plant Systematics & Evolution, 181 (3-4): 261-267.

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

Eisenberg, J., K. Redford. 1989. Mammals of the Neotropics: the Southern Cone. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Emmons, L. 1990. Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hodgkison, R., S. Balding, A. Zubaid, T. Kunz. 2003. Fruit bats (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) as seed dispersers and pollinators in a lowland Malaysian rain forest. Biotropica, 35 (4): 491-502.

Husson, A. 1978. The Mammals of Suriname. Leiden: E. S. Brill.

Nowak, R. 1994. Walker's Bats of the World. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Webster, W., J. Jones. 1984. Notes on a collection of bats from Amazonian Ecuador. Mammalia, Volume 48, Issue 1: 247-252.