With only ten individuals having ever been studied, the western nectar bat (Lonchophylla hesperia) is a little-known, enigmatic species (1). The western nectar bat has pale brown fur on the upperparts and pale brown to grey fur on the underparts (3). Its tail is short and the noseleaf is high and narrow (2).
As its name suggests, the western nectar bat feeds predominantly on nectar, and possesses a number of adaptations to this diet (4), including an elongated muzzle and a very long tongue. The tongue is covered with grooves bordered by small, hair-like protrusions (2)(5), and wave-like muscle contractions move the nectar along the grooves, enabling the western nectar bat to feed without lapping (6).
Bats of the Lonchophylla genusare specialised for feeding on nectar and pollen and, as a result, play an important role in pollinating the plants they feed upon (3). Although other Lonchophylla batsalso consume insects and fruit (3), the little information available on the western nectar bat suggests that it does not eat fruit (1).
Currently nothing is known about the breeding biology of this elusive bat.
A number of protected areas in Peru are known to harbour populations of the western nectar bat (1), including the National Park Cerros de Amotape (8), but there are currently no known specific measures in place for this little-known species.
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
A fleshy structure that surrounds the nose, common to many bats.
Transferring pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.
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