Epomophorus labiatus, Temminck, 1837

Don E. Wilson & Russell A. Mittermeier, 2019, Pteropodidae, Handbook of the Mammals of the World – Volume 9 Bats, Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, pp. 16-162 : 98

publication ID

https://doi.org/ 10.5281/zenodo.6448815



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scientific name

Epomophorus labiatus


65. View Plate 4: Pteropodidae

Little Epauletted Fruit Bat

Epomophorus labiatus View in CoL

French: Epomophore labiaire / German: Athiopien-Epaulettenflughund / Spanish: Epoméforo de Etiopia

Other common names: Ethiopian Epauletted Fruit Bat

Taxonomy. Pteropus labiatus Temminck, 1837 View in CoL ,

Sudan, “ Abyssinia.” Restricted by W. Bergmans in 1988 to Sennar, Sudan .

Epomophorus labiatus is in the gambianus species group and includes E. anurus. Systematics of small-sized forms of Epomophorus remains unclear. Two concepts of E. labiatus exist: one of a widely varying species with pronounced geographical clinal trends, including large specimens of E. minor , and another one not inclusive of E. minor and with more restricted morphometric variation (only larger specimens of the labiatus form). Additional research is needed to improve systematic resolution. Monotypic.

Distribution. Arabian Peninsula (SW Saudi Arabia and Yemen) and patchily distributed in Africa from E Sudan, Djibouti, and Ethiopia S to E DR Congo, E Zambia, Malawi, and NW Mozambique, also on Unguja and Mafia Is ( Zanzibar Archipelago) and isolated localities in NE Nigeria, Chad, and on the coast of the Republic of Congo. View Figure

Descriptive notes. Head-body 105-113 mm (males) and 90-98 mm (females), tail 0-5 mm, ear 17-21 mm, hindfoot 12-18 mm, forearm 66-80 mm (males) and 58- 76 mm (females); weight 48-64 g (males) and 34-51 g (females). Males frequently are darker and on average slightly larger than females, with broader muzzle and folded upper lip. Muzzle is rather long but relatively medium-short and broad for Epomophorus . Tongue is long, with small backward-pointing papillae near tip, very extendable, and extensively used for grooming. Eyes are large;irises are brown or chestnut-brown. Ears are relatively short, rounded, naked, and brown, with darker rims and anterior and posterior light ear tufts at bases. White epaulettes occur on adult males. Dorsum is light sandy brown on males, hairs are dark brown at bases, mid-dorsal hairs are ¢. 10 mm; dorsum is light brown (fawn) on females, hairs are beige with pale brown tips; pelage of both sexes is soft and fluffy, extending along forearm dorsally and ventrally. Venter of males is pale brown on chest to pure white on abdomen; some males have dark brown shoulders and throat; chest of females is pale fawn and becomes darker on abdomen. Wings have claw on second digits; membranes emerge from sides of body, attach to second toes, and are light brown and sparsely and very thinly covered in hair. Skull is medium to short; rostrum is relatively short, broad, and in profile flat as is interorbital region; parietal region is rounded and deflected downward; sagittal crest is absent; nuchal crest is weak; and post-dental palate is moderately concave. There are six thick palatal ridges; fourth is midway between third and fifth, and fifth is partially or fully postdental; and ridges 2-4 are not divided. Chromosomal complement has 2n = 36 and FNa = 72 (females), with twelve pairs of metacentric and six pairs of submetacentric autosomes.

Habitat. Sudan and Guinea Savanna (undifferentiated woodland, wetter miombo woodland, evergreen and semi-evergreen bushlands, Acacia [ Fabaceae ] and Commiphora [ Burseraceae ] bushland and thicket and Acacia wooded grasslands), Rainforest-Savanna Mosaic, Coastal Forest Mosaic, Zambezian Woodland and Afromontane-Afroalpine ( Ethiopia) biotic zones from sea level up to elevations of ¢. 2200 m.

Food and Feeding. The Little Epauletted Fruit Bat eats indigenous and cultivated soft fruits; e.g. Ficus (Moraceae) , Terminalia (Combretaceae) , Mangifera (Anacardiaceae) , Irvingia (Irvingiaceae) , and Salvadora (Salvadoraceae) . Fruit is packed into expandable cheeks and carried to a perch whereitis chewed. Nectar and pollen are consumed from flowers of Kigelia pinnata and K. aethiopica ( Bignoniaceae ), among other plants. Captive individuals did not drink water.

Breeding. Litter size of the Little Epauletted Fruit Bat is one. In Uganda, reproductive cycle is continuous bimodal polyestry, with postpartum estrus, and seasonal polyestry to monoestry in drier localities. Gestation lasts 5-6 months. Females are in reproductive synchrony, and males are probably also in synchrony with females. Parturition and postpartum mating occur just before or at beginning of wet seasons (March to early April and late September to early October). In Malawi and Zambia where there is only one wet season (November to early April), there is no reproductive synchrony, and births occur in October-February.

Activity patterns. During the day, Little Epauletted Fruit Bats hang (often alone) freely from branches of trees and shrubs (sometime under dense foliage), banana leaves, or exposed tree roots. Adult males probably perform calling displays, but due to the small size of larynx, calls probably have limited reach.

Movements, Home range and Social organization. The Little Epauletted Fruit Bat generally roosts alone, but groups of up to 40 individuals have been observed. In Malawi, young were captured in March-May but no adults in March—June or September, suggesting it might be nomadic.

Status and Conservation. Classified as Least Concern on The IUCN Red List. The Little Epauletted Fruit Bat has a wide distribution and large population. It is probably not declining fast enough to be assigned to a higher category. It faces no major threats, but overharvesting for subsistence food (and medicine in certain parts of Cameroon) might be a problem.

Bibliography. Benda, Al-Jumaily et al. (2011), Bergmans (1988, 1997), Bobo & Ntumwel (2010), Claessen & De Vree (1990), Duli¢ & Mutere (1973), Gaucher (1992), Happold, M. (2013e), Koopman (1975), Monadjem, Taylor et al. (2010), Taylor (2016b).














Epomophorus labiatus

Don E. Wilson & Russell A. Mittermeier 2019

Pteropus labiatus

Temminck 1837
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