Jamaican fruit bat
|Jamaican fruit bat|
|Artibeus jamaicensis range|
The Jamaican, common or Mexican fruit bat (Artibeus jamaicensis) is a fruit eating bat native to Central and South America, as well as the Greater and many of the Lesser Antilles. It is also an uncommon resident of the Southern Bahamas. Its distinctive features include the absence of an external tail and a minimal, U-shaped interfemoral membrane.
The Jamaican fruit bat is a medium-sized bat, having a total length of 78–89 mm with a 96–150 mm wingspan and weighing 40 to 60 g. It has broad but pointed and ridged ears with a serrated tragus. Its prominent noseleaf has an array of sebaceous glands. The lower lip is littered with warts with a relatively large one in the center. Sebaceous holocrine glands can be found in both lips. On the back the fur is an ashy-shade of gray or brown with visible white hair bases. The wings of the fruit bat are broad and dark gray in color. The underfur is paler in color. The fruit bat has no external tail. It has broad dark grey wings and a narrow hairless interfemoral membrane with a short calcar.
The Jamaican fruit bat ranges from southern Mexico southward to northwestern Argentina. It also lives on the islands of Trinidad, Tobago, Greater and Lesser Antilles and the Florida Keys. It can be found in elevations from sea level to 2,135 m. This species is found in a variety of habitats. It prefers habitats that are humid and tropical but has also adapted to cloud forests and drier tropical habitats. Fruit bats roost in caves, hollow trees, dense foliage, buildings and leaf tents. The fruit bat may create its own "tent" to roost in by altering broad leaves. These "tents" are only temporarily used.
The Jamaican fruit bat is a frugivore. They eat a number of kinds of fruit but focus mostly on figs; at Barro Colorado Island, Panama, figs make up more than 78% of the fruits eaten. Bats will also supplement leaves of plants with high amounts of protein. Overall, the fruit bat consumes a diverse amount of plants but locally only eats certain types. A Jamaican fruit-eating bat plucks its food and carries it away with its mouth before eating it in its roosts. As such it can disperse seeds fairly far. Fruit bats have been recorded carrying fruits weighing 3-14 g or even as much as 50 g. Jamaican fruit bats rely on sight and smell to find fruit of certain colors and odors.
The maximum longevity for the Jamaican fruit bat is nine years in the wild. Predators of fruits bats include owls, snakes, large opossums, and coati. Bats from various sites have been found with Histoplasma capsulatum. Some individual bats may have rabies. Fruit bats also are susceptible to various internal parasites: nematodes and ringworms, and external parasites: mites, ticks and chiggers.
Behavior and life history
When in their roosts, the Jamaican fruit bat has a reproductive system known as "resource defensive polygyny". That is, males will claim an area as a territory and females select the best territories to roost and mate in. Subadult males may remain in their natal roosts while females may leave to gather with other females elsewhere. In caves where there are enough roosting sites, there is some "female defensive polygyny". Here, harem males actively defend females during the breeding seasons and will attack satellite males that roost in the walls and ceilings of caves. However, they tolerate males who are subordinate to them in their harems. Satellite males are more common in large groups than smaller groups and dominant and subordinate males will cooperate to defend harem females. In large groups, dominant males may be the fathers of the subordinates.
When bats going on foraging trips, it is the dominant males that are the first to leave to the roosting sites and the last to return. At dusk, males spend much time flying near the tree roosts displacing any intruders. Jamaican fruit bats are most active at midnight; following that, activity begins to die down.
When captured, a Jamaican fruit bat will warn conspecifics with a distress call made of a long series of pulses typically lasting 15 kHz. The Jamaican fruit bat will also react to the distress calls of other species and to their own recorded calls. The fruit bat is considered a whisper bat and makes 3 low-intensity FM pulses during flight and when resting.
Breeding in the Jamaican fruit bat that is bimodal and polyestrous with births being dependent on fruit abundance. Females give birth twice a year with one young on average for each birth. Mating is highest at the end of the wet season and births take place in the dry months. Embryonic development may delay in the second breeding season but parturition will occur in the follow breeding period. The testes of the males enlarge when females enter estrous. The testes tend to be slightly larger in harem males than bachelors and the canine teeth tend to be more worn in the former. Copulation occurs until 2–25 days after the previous births. Pups born in a harem may sometimes be sired by satellite or subordinate males depending on the size of the group. Gestation is usually 3.5–4 months but can be as long as 7 months when there's delayed embryonic development. The female gives birth while perching and the newborn emerges unaided, head first. The mothers will eat the placenta. Mothers carry their pups when they are one day old but later leave them in the roosting area for the day. The female’s nipples become enlarged during lactation. Young are weaned by 15 days. Young gain a full, permanent set of teeth at 40 days and can fly by 50 days when their forearms are fully developed. Females are sexually mature by eight months and males by 12 months.
Throughout most of its range, the Jamaican fruit bat is numerous. It was found to be the most influential of the frugivorous bat community. The fruit bat has greater ecological importance in wet habitats. The Jamaican fruit eating bat does not seem to be threatened from a conservation standpoint. It appears to be common regardless of any habitat disruption. However, it may damage fruit crops in certain areas.
- Miller, B., Reid, F., Arroyo-Cabrales, J., Cuarón, A.D. & de Grammont, P.C. (2008). "Artibeus jamaicensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
- Ortega, J. & Castro-Arellano, I. (2001). "Artibeus jamaicensis" (PDF). Mammalian Species: No. 662, pp. 1–9.
- W W Dalquest, H J Werner, J H Roberts, 1952. The facial glands of a fruit-eating bat, Artibeus jamaicensis (Leach) Journal of Mammalogy 33(1):102-103.
- Davis W.B. 1970. The large fruit bats (genus Artibeus) of middle America, with a review of the Artibeus jamaicensis complex, Journal of Mammalogy 51:105-122.
- Redford K. H., J. F. Eisenberg. 1992. Mammals of the Neotropics: The southern cone, University of Chicago Press, 2:1-430.
- Eisenberg. 1989. Mammals of the Neotropics: The northern Neotropics, University of Chicago 1:1-449.
- Timm R. M. 1987. Tent construction by bat of the genera Artibeus and Uroderma. Pp 187-212 in Studies in Neotropical Mammalogy, essays in honor of Philip Hershkovitz (B. D. Patterson and R. M. Timm, eds.) Fieldiana Zoology, New Series 39:1-506.
- T.H. Kunz, C.A. Diaz (1995) Folivory in Fruit-Eating Bats, with New Evidence from Artibeus jamaicensis (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae), Biotropica 27(1):106-120.
- Fleming T. H., E. R. Heithaus. 1981. Frugivorous bats, seed shadows, and the structure of tropical forest, Reproductive Botany 13:45-53.
- Constantine D. G. 1988. Health precautions for bat researchers. pp. 491–528 in Ecological and behavioral methods for the study of bats (T. H. Kunz ed) Smithsonian Institution Press.
- Morrison D. W. 1979. Apparent male defense of tree hollows in the fruit bat Artibeus jamaicensis, Journal of Mammalogy 60:11-15.
- Morrison D. W. 1980. Foraging and day-roosting dynamics of canopy fruit bats in Panama, Journal of Mammalogy 61:20-29.
- Morrison D. W., C. O. Handley Jr. 1991. Roosting behavior. Pp. 131-136 in Demography and natural history of the common fruit bat Artibeus jamaicensis on Barro Colorado Island, Panama (C. O. Handley Jr, D. E. Wilson and A. L. Gardner, eds.) Smithsonian Institution Press.
- Ortega J., H. T. Arita. 1999. Structure and social dynamics of harem groups of Artibeus jamaicensis (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae). Journal of Mammalogy 80:1173-1185.
- Ortega J., H. T. Arita, 2000. Defensive behavior of females by dominant males of Artibeus jamaicensis (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae). Ethology 106:395-407.
- Jorge Ortega, Jesús E. Maldonado, Gerald S. Wilkinson, Héctor T. Arita, Robert C. Fleischer, (2003) Male dominance, paternity, and relatedness in the Jamaican fruit-eating bat (Artibeus jamaicensis), Molecular Ecology 12(9):2409-2415.
- Morrison D. W., S. H. Morrison. 1981. Economics of harem maintenance by a Neotropical bat, Ecology 62:864-866.
- Flight speeds of tropical forest bats, The American Midland Naturalist 104:189-192.
- Fenton M. B., T. H. Kunz. 1977. Movements and behavior Pp. 351-364 in Biology of the bats of the New World family Phyllostomatidae. Part II (R. J. Baker, J. K. Jones, D. C. Carter, eds). Special Publications, The Museum, Texas Tech University Press 13:1-364.
- August P. V. 1985. Acoustical properties of the distress calls of Artibeus jamaicensis and Phyllostomus hastatus (Chiroptera:Phyllostomidae). The Southwestern Naturalist 30:371-375.
- Fleming T. H. 1971. Artibeus jamaicensis: delayed embryonic development in a neotropical bat, Science 171:401-404.
- Fleming T. H., E. T. Hooper, D. E. Wilson. 1972. Three Central American bat communities: structure, reproduction cycles and movement pattern, Ecology 53:555-569.
- Kunz T. H., P. V. August, C. D. Burnett. 1983. Harem social organization in cave roosting Artibeus jamaicensis, Biotropica 15:133-138.
- Gardner A. L., C. O. Handley Jr., D. E. Wilson. 1991. Survival and relative abundance. Pp. 53-76 in Demography and natural history of the common fruit bat Artibeus jamaicensis on Barro Colorado Island, Panama (Handley Jr., D. E. Wilson, ed). Smithsonian Institution Press.
- Arita H. T, G. Ceballos. 1997. The mammals of Mexico: distribution and conservation status, Revista Mexicana de Mastozoologia 2:33-71.
- Fenton M. B. 1992. Phyllostomid bats (Chiroptera:Phyllostomidae) as indicators of habitat disruption in the Neotropics, Biotropica 24:440-446.
- Goodwin R. E. 1970. The ecology of the Jamaican bats, Journal of Mammalogy 51:571-579.