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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A new bat record for Laguna de Apoyo: Pteronotus personatus


We have been studying the bats of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve a while. Three volunteers, Michael Persicke, Lukas Betthaeusen, and Florian Schmid, all have made great contributions to our knowledge of the bats of our area during their volunteer periods sponsored by GIZ. We have 27 bat species on our list, about a quarter of all the species documented in Nicaragua, among the more than 600 bats captured in our studies to date. Nonetheless, there is always something new and special out there. 

Our technician Elmer Nicaragua noticed a small bat hanging from the roof of our patio, and we quickly concluded it was not any of the species we know to be in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Elmer captured it with a butterfly net, and we examined it. 

bats in Nicaragua
Wagner's Mustached Bat, Pteronotus personatus, has relatively long, thin wings. Photo by Elizabeth Loudon.
The tiny bat was quickly identified by its distinctive face, long wings, and lack of a wing-sac which some species have. The face was distinctive, with a large flap on the chin. And, of course, hair over the upper lip, hence the name Wagner's Mustached Bat.
bat Nicaragua
This little male Wagner's Mustached Bat is a fully grown male. Photo by Elizabeth Loudon.
Wagner's Mustached Bat consumes insects, and uses Doppler shifts in echolocation. This bat species is not well-known in Nicaragua, and this was our first record of it in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve.
Wagner's Mustached Bat
This tiny bat (Pteronotus personatus) has several unique features on the face and head that may be aids in echolocation. Photo by Elizabeth Loudon. 
We are not surprised at this finding, because we are sure there are many more species of bats in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve than the 27 documented species to date. Our presence here in the reserve, however, and the careful eye of Elmer Nicaragua, allowed us to make this new species record, thanks to his careful, trained eye.
bats in Nicaragua
Adult male Wagner's Mustached Bat (Pteronotus personatus), captured in Estacion Biologica, Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve,  Nicaragua, 20 May, 2013. Photo by Elizabeth Loudon.
This bat supposedly roosts in warm caves, but it is likely that this individual just got lost and chose our roof for his rest during the day. He is one more example of the importance of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve to the wildlife of Nicaragua.
Pteronotus personatus
Our little bat takes a few minutes to rest on the clothesline before flying away. Photo by Elizabeth Loudon. 
At FUNDECI/GAIA, we conduct diverse activities to protect wild nature in Nicaragua. Volunteers and conservation science interns are always welcomed. Would you like to work as a conservation science intern? Contact us for more details.
Chiroptera
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