Rhinolophus blasiiBlasius's horseshoe bat

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Geographic Range

Rhinolophus blasii is found in parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is widespread, but with a patchy distribution. Blasius's horseshoe bats live in many parts of southern Europe, including the Balkan peninsula, Greece, and on some Mediterranean islands such as Cyprus and Crete. They were once found in parts of northern Italy, but are now thought to be extirpated from this region. They are also found in many parts of the Middle East, including Turkey, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen. They are found throughout much of Africa, including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, and the Transvaal region. ("IUCN 2008 Red List", 2008; Csorba, et al., 2003; Schober and Grimmberger, 1987; Wilson and Reeder, 1993)

Habitat

Blasius's horseshoe bats live in temperate climates and prefer savanna woodlands, although they are occasionally found in desert regions as well. They roost in caves, mines, under piles of boulders, and sometimes in human dwellings, roosting in attics and cellars. ("IUCN 2008 Red List", 2008; Csorba, et al., 2003; Schober and Grimmberger, 1987)

  • Other Habitat Features
  • caves

Physical Description

Blasius's horseshoe bats are medium sized bats with medium sized ears and broad wings. They are normally light brown with hints of grey, lilac, and cream colors in their long fur. They have distinctive horseshoe shaped noseleaves, from which horseshoe bats take their name. The noseleaf of Blasius's horseshoe bats is broad but covers only part of the muzzle. The wings are short and broad, which allows for greater maneuverability. The skull is gracile, which indicates that its diet consists of soft foods rather than the hard shelled insects eaten by bats with more robust skulls. The negative tilt of the head identifies R. blasii as a nasal emitter; their high frequency echolocation calls radiate from the nostrils as opposed to the mouth. Blasius's horseshoe bats have a 1-1-2-3, 2-1-3-3 dentition, with relatively strong, short upper canines. They are sexually dimorphic, with the female being the larger of the two sexes. (Csorba, et al., 2003; Dietz, et al., 2006; Kunz and Fenton, 2003; Schober and Grimmberger, 1987)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range mass
    10 (low) g
    0.35 (low) oz
  • Average mass
    12-15 g
    oz
  • Range length
    44 to 56 mm
    1.73 to 2.20 in
  • Average length
    46.5-54 mm
    in
  • Average wingspan
    280 mm
    11.02 in

Reproduction

No information was found on mating systems of Blasius's horseshoe bats.

Many bats in the family Rhinolophidae use a system of delayed fertilization, especially species living in temperate climates. Most Rhinolophus species give birth to a single offspring. Blasius's horseshoe bats form nursery colonies in caves, with up to 200 females. (Csorba, et al., 2003; Schober and Grimmberger, 1987; Csorba, et al., 2003; Nowak, 1999; Schober and Grimmberger, 1987)

  • Breeding interval
    Blasius' horseshoe bats breed once yearly.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding season falls within the early wet season, which is variable from November to the earlier part of January.
  • Average number of offspring
    1
  • Average gestation period
    7 weeks
  • Average weaning age
    4 weeks
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years

In Rhinolophus species, parental care is the sole duty of the mother. After birth, mothers nurse their infants several times a day. Females have two pairs of non-lactating nipples, known as dummy teats, which the infants grasp with their hands and feet when they are carried by their mothers. Mothers generally leave their infants in nursery colonies when they forage, as carrying young can affect maneuverability during flight. Upon returning to nurseries, mothers identify their own young through special infant-mother echolocation calls and by scent. Females bats are not known for teaching their young hunting and foraging skills, but some species have been observed to provision juveniles during the fragile time between weaning and independence. (Hill and Smith, 1984; Neuweiler, 2000; Schober and Grimmberger, 1987)

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

Lifespan/Longevity

No specific information was found on the lifespan of Blasius's horseshoe bats, however, bats in the genus Rhinolophus can live to 6 or 7 years. (Nowak, 1999)

Behavior

Blasius's horseshoe bats are nocturnal and generally roost in caves or other underground dwellings during the day. Typically, roosts will include not more than three or four bats who suspend freely by their feet congregated closely to one another, but not touching. At night they hunt for moths using echolocation, as well as ground gleaning techniques to find prey. Ground gleaning is a method of prey capture where the predator uses specific sensory information to snatch their quarry from the ground. In a study by Siemers and Ivanova (2006), Blasius's horseshoe bats were found to be well adapted to taking flight from the ground, enabling them to hunt effectively at this level. They can also fly very close to vegetation and are able to capture prey in flight. Blasius's horseshoe bats use flutter-clues from the wings of their prey to help identify its location. They hibernate during colder seasons, sometimes beginning as early as November, and will not hibernate in any spot that falls to temperatures below 14 degrees Celsius. Blasius's horseshoe bats do not migrate. (Csorba, et al., 2003; Dietz, et al., 2006; Fenton, 1983; Schober and Grimmberger, 1987; Siemers and Ivanora, 2004)

Home Range

The home range of R. blasii is currently unknown.

Communication and Perception

Like most bats, Blasius's horseshoe bats use echolocation to navigate and locate prey. Echolocation calls have a signal duration of around 40 to 50 milliseconds and a distinctive constant-frequency, with a signal of 93 to 98 kHz. Information on intraspecific communication is not reported, except that females find their young with auditory and olfactory cues. (Dietz, et al., 2006; Schober and Grimmberger, 1987)

Food Habits

Blasius's horseshoe bats are insectivorous, with a diet mainly consisting of nocturnal moths, including those of the families Lasiocampidae, Noctuidae, and Geometridae. (Dietz, et al., 2006)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects

Predation

No specific information on the predation of R. blasii was obtained, however, one can assume that animals known to prey on other bats might also prey on this species. These include owls, snakes, and sometimes other bats. In general, bats have a fairly low rate of predation. (Hill and Smith, 1984)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Because it is an insectivorous species, one important ecosystem role of R. blasii is the control of insects, mainly nocturnal moths. Bats are also known for their highly phosphorus and nitrogen rich excrement which is beneficial to soil.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The ecosystem roles of R. blasii can also have a positive impact on humans. These bats eat moths that can be agricultural and household pests. Bat guano can be used as fertilizer in gardens and on farms.

  • Positive Impacts
  • produces fertilizer
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Although there are no known adverse effects of R. blasii on humans, their occasional tendency to roost in attics and cellars can be seen as invasive, and therefore they can be considered by some as household pests. ("IUCN 2008 Red List", 2008)

  • Negative Impacts
  • household pest

Conservation Status

Although R. blasii is listed as "Least Concern" on the IUCN 2008 Red List, populations are still in decline, and this species has become regionally extinct in some areas, such as Italy. Threats to Blasius's horseshoe bats include loss or disruption of roosting sites and foraging habitat. Populations are uncommon in Africa, and in Europe populations are also quite limited. However, Asian populations seem healthy. Rhinolophus basii is legally protected in some areas by the international Bonn and Bern Conventions. Some nations have set up their own legislation to protect this species, and Special Areas for Conservation have been established under the guidelines of the EU Habitats and Species Directive. ("IUCN 2008 Red List", 2008)

Contributors

claudia cooper (author), University of Oregon, Stephen Frost (editor, instructor), University of Oregon, Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Glossary

Ethiopian

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

World Map

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

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.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

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.

delayed fertilization

a substantial delay (longer than the minimum time required for sperm to travel to the egg) takes place between copulation and fertilization, used to describe female sperm storage.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

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.

heterothermic

having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

hibernation

the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

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

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

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.

sperm-storing

mature spermatozoa are stored by females following copulation. Male sperm storage also occurs, as sperm are retained in the male epididymes (in mammals) for a period that can, in some cases, extend over several weeks or more, but here we use the term to refer only to sperm storage by females.

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).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

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

References

2008. "IUCN 2008 Red List" (On-line). Accessed February 04, 2009 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/19515.

Csorba, G., P. Ujhelyi, N. Thomas. 2003. Horseshoe Bats of the World. Shropshire: Alana Books.

Dietz, C., I. Dietz, B. Siemers. 2006. Wing Measurement variations in the five European horseshoe bat species (Chiroptera: Rhinolophidae). Journal of Mammology, 87(6): 1241-1251.

Fenton, M. 1983. Just Bats. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Hill, J., J. Smith. 1984. Bats: A Natural History. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Kunz, T., M. Fenton. 2003. Bat Ecology. Chicago and London: The University Chicago Press.

Neuweiler, G. 2000. The Biology of Bats. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press.

Schober, W., E. Grimmberger. 1987. A Guide to Bats of Britain and Europe. Verlag, Stuttgart: W. Keller & Co..

Siemers, B., T. Ivanora. 2004. Ground gleaning in horseshoe bats: comparative evidence from Rhinolophus blasii, R. euryale and R. mehelyi. Behavior Ecology Sociobiology, 56: 464-471.

Wilson, D., D. Reeder. 1993. Mammal Species of t he World: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press.