Bulmer's fruit bat
|Bulmer's fruit bat|
|Bulmer's Fruit Bat range|
Bulmer's fruit bat (Aproteles bulmerae) is a megabat endemic to New Guinea. It is listed as a critically endangered species due to habitat loss and hunting. It is the only member of the genus Aproteles.
One adult female Bulmer's fruit bat weighed 600 g (1.3 lb). Bulmer's fruit bat is a cave-dweller that occurs in mid-montane forests. Its altitudinal range is at least 1800 to 2400 m (5800–7900 ft). It is probably an obligate frugivore. It occurs in cave-dwelling colonies.
Etymology of the scientific name of Bulmer's fruit bat: genus name ("Aproteles") – "incomplete at the front" (Greek), a reference to the lack of lower incisors; species name ("bulmerae"), for Susan Bulmer, the archaeologist who excavated the site from which the original fossils were recovered (Flannery 1995).
History of distribution
Bulmer's fruit bat was first described from 12,000 year-old fossils found in the central highlands in Chimbu Province, Papua New Guinea. It may have become extinct there about 9000 years ago. In 1975, it was discovered in the Hindenburg Wall area of Western Province, Papua New Guinea, in a cave known as Luplupwintem. At that time, local inhabitants described the bat as being abundant, perhaps numbering thousands of bats. However, two years later, the colony had been decimated, apparently by hunters who entered the cave with shotguns and store-bought ropes. During the 1980s, no bats were seen and it was feared that the species may have become extinct. However, by 1993 a colony of about 160 bats was known to be living in the same cave.
A population existed in the Telefomin region of Sandaun Province, Papua New Guinea, as recently as 1984. The only other populations reported from recent times are from the vicinity of Herowana in Eastern Highlands Province and from the vicinity of Crater Mountain in Chimbu Province, both in Papua New Guinea (Bonaccorso 1998).
Threats and reasons for decline
Hunting and human disturbance are the probable causes of its recent decline (Bonaccorso 1998). The colony at Luplupwintem Cave had traditionally been protected by the native people of the area, but an inflow of outside cash in the mid-1970s led to the purchase of caving equipment and guns and to the decimation of the bat colony (Nowak 1999).
Biology and ecology
- Weight: One adult female Bulmer's fruit bat weighed 600 g (1.3 lb).
- Habitat: Bulmer's fruit bat is a cave-dweller that occurs in mid-montane forests. It has been found living in a cave at 2300 m (7500'). Its altitudinal range is at least 1800 - 2400 m (5800 - 7900'). Given its montane distribution, this large bat seems well adapted to cool environmental temperatures. (Bonaccorso 1998, Flannery 1995)
- Range: Bulmer's fruit occurs in the Maoke Range Alpine Heathlands Global 200 Ecoregion (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999).
- Age to Maturity: Bulmer's fruit bat is not sexually active by the beginning of its second year and probably does not breed until its third year (Flannery 1995).
- Birth Season: Births occur in April.
- Early Development: A newborn Bulmer's fruit bat is carried for the first few weeks of its life by its mother while she forages.
- Diet: Based on dental structures and its close relationship to other fruit-eating bats, Bulmer's fruit bat is probably an obligate frugivore (Bonaccorso 1998). Its diet includes figs.
- Behavior: Bulmer's fruit bat roosts in caves. The surviving bats at Luplupwintem Cave are extremely cautious. If undisturbed, they leave the cave at dusk; in the presence of people, they leave after dark. All of the bats return to the roost at around 6:00 am, before light (Flannery 1995).
- Social Organization: Bulmer's fruit bat occurs in cave-dwelling colonies.
- Hutson, T., Helgen, K., Flannery, T. & Wright, D. (2008). "Aproteles bulmerae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 3.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 14 May 2010.