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Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs from Nayarit (Mexico) to eastern Brazil and Trinidad (Simmons 2005).
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Geographic Range

Diclidurus albus is rare but widespread, ranging from Mexico to eastern Brazil. It is also found on some Caribbean Islands including Trinidad. During the summer months no sightings of D. albus have been made in Mexico, the northern edge of its range. This suggests that members of this species migrate south seasonally, from May to October. Little information is available on D. albus migration patterns.

Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )

  • Eisenberg, J., K. Redford. 1999. Mammals of the Neotropics: The Central Neotropics: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Ceballos, G., R. Medellin. 1988. Diclidurus albus. Mammalian Species, 316: 1-4.
  • Jones, J., C. Hood. 1993. Synopsis of South American Bats of the Family Emballonuridae. Occasional Papers The Museum Texas Tech University, 155: 1-32. Accessed March 21, 2006 at http://www.loyno.edu/~chood/joneshood1993.pdf.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Diclidurus albus is a distinctive looking bat species. The common name, northern ghost bats, refers to their soft, long, white pelage. Sometimes the proximal ends of the hairs are grey in color, while the distal ends are white, giving the animal an ashy grey tone. The patagia are pinkish and translucent and the tail is short, about one third the length of the uropatagium. The tail punctures the uropatagium, with the end projecting dorsally. The uropatagium is large with about two-thirds covered in fur, and extends beyond the hind feet. Northern ghost bats have nearly naked faces with large eyes and shorter, yellowish ears. They do not have a nose leaf, and their tragus is prominent, broad, and rounded.

Diclidurus albus lacks the wing sacs that other Emballonuridae have. Instead, these bats have a unique gland on their uropatagium. This gland has two valves and is triangular in shape. Its actual function isn’t known, but it is larger in males, and becomes even more prominent during the breeding season. Northern ghost bats have vestigial thumbs, unlike other species in the genus.

The skull is distinctive. The rostrum angles upward steeply from the braincase. The zygomatic arches are complete and the skull has strong supraorbital ridges. Premaxillae do not meet and have nasal branches only. The canines project forward and outward. The dental formula is I: 1/3, C: 1/1, PM: 2/2, M: 3/3 = 32. Cheek teeth are dilambdodont and have cingula.

Northern ghost bats are at the larger end of the size range for Emballonuridae, with total lengths ranging from 86.0 mm to 103.0 mm. Tail lengths vary between 18.0 mm and 22.0 mm. Diclidurus albus differs from its congeners in that the length of its forearm is between 60 mm and 70 mm, while other species of this genus have forearms less than 60 mm or above 70 mm, or are distinguished by brownish pelage. Adult D. albus weigh between 17 and 24 g. They are sexually dimorphic; females tend to be larger in size and length, but this varies regionally. For example, in Mexico, both sexes were very similar in all measurements. The average female length was 88.0 mm, with the average male length being 89.0 mm. In Guatemala, however, females were about 10 mm longer than the males, with an average length of 102.0 mm compared to 92.5 mm for males. Sample sizes are relatively small, however, and more research is needed to verify the presence of sexual dimorphism in D. albus.

Range mass: 17.0 to 24.0 g.

Average mass: 20.0 g.

Range length: 86.0 to 103.0 mm.

Range wingspan: 63.0 to 69.2 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
D. albus prefer humid habitats like riparian and tropical rainforests but have been found in human-disturbed areas like plantations, clearings, and over villages (Ceballos and Médelin 1988). They are solitary, and like all members of the family are insectivorous (Ceballos and Médelin 1988).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Northern ghost bats prefer humid habitats like riparian and tropical rainforests but have been found in human-disturbed areas like plantations, clearings, and over villages. They prefer to roost underneath the fronds of palms, including coconut, chocho palms, and coquito palms. These bats have also been seen in less mesic habitats, like deciduous and evergreen forests. Diclidurus albus migrates within the Neotropics. They occur from sea level to 1500 m. They were observed at highest elevations in Costa Rica.

Range elevation: 0 to 1500 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest

Other Habitat Features: agricultural ; riparian

  • LaVal, R. 2004. Impact of Global Warming and Locally Changing Climate on Tropical Cloud Forest Bats. Journal of Mammalogy, 85/2: 237-244.
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Like all members of the family Emballonuridae, northern ghost bats are insectivorous. Stomach contents have a high proportion of moths.

Animal Foods: insects

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Northern ghost bat individuals eat around 1,000 insects a night. This could affect insect populations. These bats are rare, so their effect on the ecosystem are probably slight and can only be a hypothesized based on the effects of other bats in the area. Also, bat guano is very important to plants, providing excellent fertilizer.

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Predation

Northern ghost bats are nocturnal and solitary, which helps to protect them from many predators. Predation on northern ghost bats has not been recorded.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Northern ghost bats use echolocation to find prey and to navigate their way through the nighttime forest. They emit a call at 22 kHz while hunting. No information is available about communication between individual bats, although chemical communication is likely, including the use of gland secretions by males.

Communication Channels: acoustic ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; ultrasound ; echolocation

  • Zorpette, G. 1999. Chasing the Ghost Bat. Scientific American, 280/6: 82-89.
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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Northern ghost bat lifespans have not been studied.

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Reproduction

There is little information on the mating system of D. albus. Northern ghost bats are solitary except during the breeding season. During this time, small groups of bats can been seen roosting very close together. There is usually a maximum of four individuals, and the group consists of one male and multiple females. The triangular gland present on the uropatagium of D. albus grows in size during the breeding season, and may be used by males to attract females.

Mating System: polygynous

Breeding occurs during the months of January and February. Pregnant females have been found between the months of January and June. Single young are usually born in May or June. The breeding season occurs only once a year, so D. albus is monestrus. The timing of weaning and the age at sexual maturity are unknown. Diclidurus albus is a rare animal to see, so its reproductive behaviors have yet to be studied in depth.

Breeding interval: Northern ghost bats breed once per year.

Breeding season: Diclidurus albus breeds during January and February.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 1.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); viviparous

Like most other bats, females care for their young by nursing and protecting them. Young bats mature quickly and become independent within a few months of their birth.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • Ceballos, G., R. Medellin. 1988. Diclidurus albus. Mammalian Species, 316: 1-4.
  • Hernandez, C., C. Tapia, A. Garduno, E. Corona, M. Hidalgo. 1985. Notes on Distribution and Reproduction of Bats from Coastal Regions of Michoacan, Mexico. Journal of Mammalogy, 66/3: 549-553. Accessed March 21, 2006 at http://www.jstor.org/view/00222372/ap050268/05a00170/0.
  • Jones, J., C. Hood. 1993. Synopsis of South American Bats of the Family Emballonuridae. Occasional Papers The Museum Texas Tech University, 155: 1-32. Accessed March 21, 2006 at http://www.loyno.edu/~chood/joneshood1993.pdf.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Diclidurus albus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Lim, B., Miller, B., Reid, F., Arroyo-Cabrales, J., Cuarón, A.D. & de Grammont, P.C.

Reviewer/s
Medellín, R. (Chiroptera Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution and because it is unlikely to be declining at nearly the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category.
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IUCN lists D. albus as being at lower risk and least concern. Although northern ghost bats are rare throughout their range, they are widespread.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

Population
They do not form colonies and are found in small groups only during the breeding season (Ceballos and Médelin 1988). The home range size for D. albus is unknown (Potchynok and Myers 2006).

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no major threats to this widespread species.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Research actions.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Like most wild mammals, northern ghost bats can transmit rabies to humans and other animals. However, rabies transmission to humans is rare.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (causes disease in humans , carries human disease); causes or carries domestic animal disease

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Northern ghost bats may be important in helping keep agricultural pest populations in check, but their rarity suggests that they might not contribute much to insect control. Also, because this bat is attractively colored and rare, may help draw ecotourists to an area. With knowledgeable guides, nighttime bat tours can attract tourists.

Positive Impacts: ecotourism ; produces fertilizer; controls pest population

  • Lim, B., M. Engstrom. 2005. Mammals of Iwokrama Forest. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 154: 71-108.
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Wikipedia

Northern ghost bat

The northern ghost bat, Diclidurus albus, is a bat species from South America, Trinidad, and Central America. It is a relatively rare, completely white, insectivorous bat, with an unusual sac at the base of its tail. Specimens infected with rabies have been found in Trinidad.

Habitat[edit]

Roosts can be found in caves, deep rock crevices, and old mines. Although ghost bats prefer to roost in colonies, they currently only roost in small groups at best due to a lack of roosting sites that support larger colonies. It is unusual for there to be a colony of more than 100 bats in one location. It often roosts singly under palm leaves.

References[edit]

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