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Mastozoología neotropical

versión On-line ISSN 1666-0536

Mastozool. neotrop. vol.20 no.2 Mendoza dic. 2013



New records of Platalina genovensium (Chiroptera, Phyllostomidae) and Tomopeas ravus (Chiroptera, Molossidae)


Paúl M. Velazco1, Richard Cadenillas2, Oscar Centty3, Liz Huamaní2, and Hugo Zamora4

1 Department of Mammalogy, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY 10024, USA [Correspondence: <>].
2 Instituto de Paleontología, Universidad Nacional de Piura, Piura, Perú.
3 Departamento de Mastozoología, Museo de Historia Natural, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima, Perú.
4 Área de Mastozoología, Museo de Historia Natural de la Universidad Nacional de San Agustín, Arequipa, Perú.

Recibido 22 abril 2013.
Aceptado 25 julio 2013.
Editor asociado: C Galliari


The monotypic bat genera Platalina and Tomopeas are rare and known from few localities throughout their distributions. These species have not been recorded in the northern half of their distributions for the last 4 and 3 decades, respectively, suggesting local extirpation. Here we present new records for both taxa from a 2012 expedition conducted in the northern end of their distributions. We suggest a role the oil concessions in the area can play towards the conservation of these two unusual bat species, as well as additional actions that will help to protect them.


Nuevos registros de Platalina genovensium (Chiroptera, Phyllostomidae) y Tomopeas ravus (Chiroptera, Molossidae).

Las especies de los géneros monotípicos Platalina y Tomopeas son raras y conocidas solo de pocas localidades a lo largo de su distribución. Estas especies no han sido registradas en el norte de su distribución en las últimas 4 y 3 décadas, respectivamente, sugiriendo una extinción local. Aquí se presentan nuevos registros obtenidos en una expedición realizada el 2012, en el norte de la distribución de ambas especies. Se destaca el papel de las concesiones petroleras ubicadas en el área para la conservación de estas dos especies de murciélagos únicas y también recomendamos medidas adicionales que ayudarán a protegerlas.

Key words: Bats; Coastal desert; Conservation; Endemism; Peru.

Palabras clave: Conservación; Desierto costero; Endemismo; Murciélagos; Perú.

The coastal desert strip west of the Andes in Peru and Chile harbors a unique mammalian fauna that is adapted to arid habitats and harsh conditions. These fauna include, but are not limited to, bats (Amorphochilus schnablii, Platalina genovensium, Eumops wilsoni, Mormopterus kalinowskii, Tomopeas ravus) and rodents (Melanomys zunigae, Oligoryzomys arenalis, Phyllotis gerbillus, Sigmodon peruanus) (Mena et al., 2007; Pacheco et al., 2009). Two bats, among these mammals, each belonging to monotypic genera, are of special importance due to their rare occurrence, unique morphology, phylogenetic position, and threatened status.

Platalina Thomas, 1928 is known from localities west of the Andes in Peru and northern Chile, with the exception of two records from Huánuco in central Peru (Simmons, 2005; Griffiths and Gardner, 2008). Its elevational range goes from near sea level (Lima [Peru] and Arica [Chile]) up to 2566 m (Ica [Peru]). Its only species Platalina genovensium, the largest Lonchophyllinae, is a highly specialized phyllostomid bat that feeds primarily on flowers of columnar cacti (e.g. Weberbauerocereus weberbaueri, Corryocactus brevistylus, and Browningia candelaris; Sahley and Baraybar, 1996; Baraybar, 2004). Platalina remains had been recovered from Pleistocene deposits from the Jatun Uchco cave network in the city of Ambo, Department of Huánuco, Peru (Shockey et al., 2009). These remains were recovered along with remains of other bats (Anoura sp. and Desmodus sp.), six species of carnivores and one extinct xenarthran (Shockey et al., 2009). P. genovensium has not been recorded from the northern half of its distribution for over 40 years, despite several collecting trips searching for the species during that period (R. Cadenillas, pers. comm.; Velazco and Cadenillas, 2011), raising the possibility of local extirpation due to destruction of its habitat.

On the other hand, Tomopeas Miller, 1900 is endemic to the coastal desert of central and northern Peru (Zamora et al., in press). As with P. genovensium, the elevational range of Tomopeas ravus is from near sea level (Piura [Peru]) to near 2300 m (Cajamarca [Peru]). T. ravus is an insectivorous bat with a preference for beetles (Coleoptera; Barkley, 2008). The species was described by Miller (1900) based on three specimens from Cajamarca and Lima (Peru) collected in 1899 and 1900 by Perry O. Simons, sent to Gerrit S. Miller Jr. by Oldfield Thomas. The holotype (from Yayán, Cajamarca) is deposited in the Natural History Museum of London (BMNH and the two paratypes are at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution (USNM 103929-103930). Following the original descrip-tion, several specimens collected in the 1960's and early 1980's had been reported from a few localities (Aellen, 1966; Davis, 1970; Duszynski and Barkley, 1985). More recently, Zamora et al. (in press) reported the southernmost record of the species based on a specimen collected in 2010; but, as in the case of P. genovensium, there have been no records from the northern distribution of this species in the last 30 years.

In this report we present records of P. genovensium and T. ravus, obtained from a bat inventory carried out in the province of Talara, department of Piura in northwestern Peru. Also we discuss different conservation actions that we suggest are necessary to protect these two species.

Bats were captured from 19 to the 21 October 2012 at two localities in northern Peru. We deployed 10 mist nets, which we kept open for 6 hours (18:30 h to 00:30 h). On each night, we set up the nets at ground level, next to potential bat roosts or flyways, and checked the nets every 30 min. Voucher specimens were preserved in 10% formalin and maintained in 70% ethanol. In addition, tissues and ecto-parasites were collected aseptically and stored in 95% ethanol prior to preservation of the vouchers in formalin. Specimens are deposited at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA (AMNH) and the Centro de Ecología y Biodiversidad, Lima, Peru (CEBIO). All collecting and animal handling procedures followed the recommended protocol defined in the Guidelines of the American Society of Mammalogists for the use of wild mammals in research (Sikes et al., 2011). The collection of the specimens occurred under the authorization of the Ministerio de Agricultura (Collection Permit N° 393-2012-AG-DGFFS-DGEFFS).

The following institutional abbreviations are used on this report list: AMNH (American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA), BMNH (Natural History Museum of London [formerly the British Museum of Natural History]), UK), CEBIOMAS (Colección de Mastozoología, Centro de Ecología y Biodi-versidad, Lima, Peru), FMNH (Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois, USA), LSUMZ (Museum of Natural Science, Louisi-ana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA), MCZ (Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA), MNHN (Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, Santiago, Chile), MUSA (Museo de Historia Natural de la Universidad Nacional de San Agustín, Arequipa, Peru), MUSM (Museo de Historia Natural de la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima, Peru), MVZ (Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, USA), NMB (Naturhis-torisches Museum Basel, Basel, Switzerland), ROM (Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada), TCWC (Texas Cooperative Wildlife Collection, Texas A&M University, College Station, USA), and USNM (National Museum of Natural History [formerly the United States National Museum], Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA).

Platalina genovensium (Peruvian Long-tongued Bat)

Our specimens, an adult male (CEBIOMAS 224) and adult female (AMNH 278520), were collected 12.9 km N of Tamarindo, La Brea, Talara, Piura, Peru (4° 45' 59.1" S, 80° 59' 29.5"W; Fig. 1) on October 19, 2012 at 19:30 h in ground-level mist nets. Along with these two individuals another three adult P. genovensium were captured in the same mist net at the same time (2 [FA = 50.5, 51.0] and 1 [FA = 49.0]). These three individuals were released after recording reproductive condition and taking some external measurement. It is possible that all five individuals were part of the same colony. The pelage of one of the three released individuals (subadult ) was gray in color, whereas all others were the characteristic brownish color (Fig. 2). Our specimens shared the diagnostic characteristics described by Phillips (1971), Gregorin and Ditchfield (2005), and Griffiths and Gardner (2008) for P. genovensium: greatly elongated muzzle; forearm longer that 40 mm; rostrum clearly longer than the braincase; premaxillary bones projected beyond the canines, producing a triangular projection; flat palate; "V" shaped medial posterior margin of the palate; all incisors (upper and lower) in contact; upper incisors projecting forward, almost as an extension of the rostrum; flattened lingual surface of upper canines; upper premolars longer and narrower; first upper premolar short and lacks the labial cingulum; the second upper premolar presents a weakly labial cingulum and an accessory posterior cuspid; metastyles of the upper molars are reduced; weakly trifid lower incisors; lower canines with a lingual cingulum; and entoconid absent in all lower molars (Figs. 2 and 3, Table 1).

Fig. 1. Geographic distribution of Platalina genovensium (left) and Tomopeas ravus (right). The name of the localities are given in the main text.

Fig. 2. Live photograph of the Peruvian long-tongued bat, Platalina genovensium (CEBIO-MAS 224 - [left]), collected 12.9 km N of Tamarindo, La Brea, Talara, Piura, Peru, and of the Peruvian crevice-dwelling bat, Tomopeas ravus (AMNH 278525 - [right]), collected in Quebrada Pariñas, Pariñas, Talara, Piura, Peru.

Table 1. Measurements (mm) of Platalina genovensium and Tomopeas ravus

Fig. 3.
Platalina genovensium: Dorsal, ventral, and lateral views of cranium and lateral view of mandible of an adult male (CEBIOMAS 224 - [left]) and an adult female (AMNH 278520 - [right]), both collected in Talara, Piura, Peru. Scale bar = 10 mm.

Platalina genovensium is characterized by having three upper and three lower molars (Phillips, 1971; Griffiths and Gardner, 2008). Our female specimen (AMNH 278520) has the characteristic three upper and lower molars, but the male (CEBIOMAS 224) has only two upper molars on each side (Fig. 3). After careful examination we found no sign of dental alveoli behind the second upper molar. This lack of the third upper molar appears to be an individual anomaly, since this specimen conforms to all of the other diagnostic characteristics of P. genovensium (see Griffiths and Gardner, 2008).

Our two specimens exhibit variation in the shape and robustness of the mandibular rami (Fig. 3). The male (CEBIOMAS 224, Fig. 3 [left]) has a robust and deep mandibular ramus characteristic of other males we have examined (e.g. AMNH 257108; FMNH 24336, 54980; MNHN 1876; MUSA 12200, 12201, 12203, 12204; USNM 268765), whereas our female (AMNH 278520, Fig. 3 [right]) has thinner and more delicate mandibular rami similar to those of the only other female specimen available to us for examination (MUSA 12205).

During the same night, we caught four Glossophaga soricina (AMNH 278518; CEBIOMAS 223; two released) and one Promops davisoni (CEBIOMAS 222). A few meters from the mist net we found a roost of Nyctinomops aurispinosus (AMNH 278527; CEBIOMAS 228) and a roost of Tyto alba (Aves, Strigiformes, Tytonidae). We analyzed nearly 60 owl pellets recovered from the T. alba roost and found remains of the bats Myotis cf. atacamensis, M. nigricans, Nyctinomops aurispinosus, and Promops davisoni, as well as remains of the rodents Aegialomys xanthaeolus, Phyllotis gerbillus, Rattus rattus, and Mus musculus, along with remains of birds, and reptiles. The habitat at the collecting site is woodland savannah characterized by Prosopis pallida (Fabacea), Acacia macracantha (Fabacea), Parkinsonia aculeata (Fabaceae), Colicodendron scabridum (Capparacea), Capparis avicennifolia (Capparacea), Psittacanthus chanduyensis (Loranthaceae), and the introduced species Casuarina equisetifolia (Casuarinaceae).

The following list includes all localities where P. genovensium has been recorded (Fig. 1). CHILE: Tarapacá: (1) Arica, Valle de Azapa (Galaz et al., 1999). PERU: Arequipa: Arequipa (FMNH 54980); (2) 20 km S of Arequipa (Sah-ley and Baraybar, 1996); (3) Carivelí (AMNH 257108; USNM 268765); (4) Caravelí, Atiquipa, Lomas de Atiquipa (MUSA 2631-2632); (5) Calpa Gold Mine, 35 kilometers SW of Caravelí (MCZ 49449-49475, 62269-62271); (6) Tiabaya, batolito Caldera (MUSM 12900 [IABIN]); (7) Yarabamba (Jiménez and Péfaur, 1982); (8) Yura, Estanquillo (Jiménez and Péfaur, 1982); (9) Yura, Yura Viejo (MUSA 7903-7904). Huánuco: Huánuco (FMNH 24336, Sanborn, 1936); (10) Ambo, Cueva de Jatun Uchco, Cerro Chanchao Pergaypata (MUSM 23126 [IABIN]). Ica: (11) Pisco, Humay, Quebrada los Olivos (MUSA 12201); (12) Pisco, Humay, Mina Bolívar (MUSM 26150 [IABIN]); (13) Pisco, Humay, Quebrada Ticcoc (MUSA 12200, 12204); (14) Pisco, Humay, Quebrada San Juan (MUSA 12203, 12205). Lambayeque: (15) 0.5 km N Rafan between Mocupe and Lagunas (LSUMZ 21298-21299). Lima: (16) California, near Chaclacayo (ROM 93817); (17) Canta, Santa Rosa de Quives, Santa Rosa de Quives (Malo de Molina et al., 2011); (18) Cerro Agus-tino (Ortiz de la Puente D., 1951); (19) Huaral, San Miguel de Acos, Acos (Malo de Molina et al., 2011); near Lima (Thomas, 1928). Piura: (20) 40 km WNW Sullana (TCWC 23278); (21) Fondo, 14 km N and 12 km E Talara (MVZ 135545); (22) Monte Grande, 14 km N and 25 km E Talara (MVZ 135546-135550); (23) Talara, La Brea, 12.9 km N of Tamarindo (AMNH 278520; CEBIOMAS 224); (24) NW Sullana, Angola (=Angolo) (Aellen, 1966). Tacna: (25) Las Yaras, Lomas del Morro Sama (Aragón and Aguirre, 2007).

Tomopeas ravus (Peruvian Crevice-dwelling Bat)

Our specimens, an adult male (CEBIOMAS 226) and adult female (AMNH 278525), were collected at Quebrada Pariñas, 9.6 km NE of Talara, Pariñas, Talara, Piura, Peru (4° 31'41.2"S, 81° 12' 09" W; 73 m, Fig. 1) on October 20 and 21 (respectively), 2012, at 19:00 h in ground-level mist nets. Both bats were captured in the same mist nets on different nights and at approximately the same time. Our specimens show all of the diagnostic characteristics and fall within the size range of T. ravus as described by Miller (1900), Davis (1970), and Barkley (2008). The ear has a low, rounded tragus and a small, well-developed antitragus that lacks a basal lobe; pinnae are separated and project anteriorly; the upper lip is broad, slightly wrinkled, conspicuously fringed with hairs, and extends over the lower lip; nostrils are tubular; wings broad, with thin flight membranes; legs and feet are slender; tail is enclosed in the uropatagium, except for the last two vertebrae, which extend free beyond the interfemoral membrane; skull is dorsoventrally flattened with a conspicuous shallow depression in the middle of the nasals that makes the anterior end of the rostrum appear to flare up; auditory bullae are disc shaped, reflecting the great expansion of the margin of its inner border (Figs. 2 and 4; Table 1).

Fig. 4. Dorsal, ventral, and lateral views of cranium and lateral view of mandible of an adult male Tomopeas ravus (CEBIOMAS 226 - ), collected in Talara, Piura, Peru. Scale bar = 5 mm.

Along with these individuals we captured one Glossophaga soricina (released), two Histiotus sp. (AMNH 278521; CEBIOMAS 227), and two Myotis albescens (AMNH 278526; CEBIOMAS 225). The habitat at Quebrada Pariñas is a wooded savanna characterized by the following tree species: Prosopis pallida (Fabacea), Acacia macracantha (Fabacea), Parkinsonia aculeata (Fabaceae), Colicodendron scabridum (Capparacea), Capparis avicennifolia (Capparacea), and by the extremely abundant introduced Casuarina equisetifolia (Casuarinaceae).

The following list includes all localities where T. ravus has been recorded (Fig. 1). PERU: Cajamarca: (A) Contumazá, Tolón (Miller, 1900) (coordinates not found); Yayán (Miller, 1900). Ica: (B) Pisco, Quebrada San Juan (MUSA 12202). Lambayeque: (C) 12 km N Ol-mos (LSUMZ 25076); (D) Cerro la Vieja, 7 km S Mo-tupe (TCWC 23268-23272; LSUMZ 25062-25075, 25077-25087, 25148- 25151, 25153, 27170). Lima: (E) Chosica (Miller, 1900). Piura: (F) Fondo [Quebrada Hondo], 14 km N and 13 km E Talara (MVZ 135632); (G) Fondo, 14 km N and 12 km E Talara (MVZ 139990); (H) Mallares (Aellen, 1966); (I) Monte Grande, 14 km N and 25 km E of Talara (MVZ 135633-135634); (J) Pariñas, 7 km N and 15 km E Talara (MVZ 135635-135637); (K) Talara, Pariñas, 9.6 km NE of Talara, Quebrada Pariñas (AMNH 278525; CEBIO-MAS 226); (L) SE foot Cerro Amotape, 13 km N and 35 km W Sullana (MVZ 135628-135631).

The capture of specimens with relatively little sampling effort raises the question of whether P. genovensium and T. ravus are in fact rare species or if they are undersampled due to inappropriate collecting methodologies. We used ground-level mist nets placed next to potential roosts or flyways, indicating the importance of site selection for placing mist nets. It is possible that both species also occur in southwestern Ecuador because it has a similar mosaic of xeric habitats where some desert endemics have been reported (e.g., Artibeus fraterculus; Pinto et al., 2013).

Platalina genovensium is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN (Pacheco et al., 2008) and Critically Endangered by the Peruvian government (Ministerio de Agricultura de la República del Perú, 2004). There are three main threats facing this species: 1) decline of columnar cacti, mainly due to the expansion of the urban centers; 2) human disturbance of caves (roost sites) throughout its distribution; and 3) increased hunting pressure to capture these bats for medicinal purposes. The latter is carried out by local healers who continuously extract bats from roosts to use them to treat a variety of diseases from epilepsy to heart attacks, as well as for handicrafts to sell (Sahley and Baraybar, 1996). All of the P. genovensium we have examined show sexual dimorphism in the shape of the mandible; males have a robust and deep ramus (Fig. 3 [left]); whereas, females have a slender, more delicate ramus (Fig. 3 [right]). Because we were only able to examine two females, more females need to be examined to confirm this pattern. This can be a challenging task due to the small number of specimens of P. genovensium in natural history museums collections and the inability to verify this characteristic in living individuals.

Tomopeas ravus on the other hand is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN (Velazco et al., 2008) and Critically Endangered by the Peruvian government (Ministerio de Agricultura de la República del Perú, 2004). The main threat to T. ravus appears to be the reduction of its habitat due to changes in land use (i.e., agriculture, urban expansion, and other anthropogenic factors).

Populations of P. genovensium can be easily protected by gating entrances to those caves used as roosts to prevent disturbance and destruction of the roosts by local people (Currie, 2001). The protection of T. ravus will require protection of the particular rock formations used as day-time roosts by these bats.

Because of the conservation status of these species and the threats they face, we consider it imperative to take conservation actions. Both localities where we found P. genovensium and T. ravus are located in oil-concession lands having limited access and providing restricted opportunities for development. We therefore encourage land holders to incorporate protection of these bat species into their environmen-tal management plans. We also recommend implementation of plans to monitor populations of P. genovensium and T. ravus throughout their distributions, as well as the implementation of studies of their ecology, feeding habits, roosting behavior, and detection of possible migration routes, among other important aspects of their natural history. It is also important to educate local people through workshops and short courses on the importance of these species in the ecosystem.


The following curators and collection staff graciously provided access to specimens under their care: Nancy Simmons and Eileen Westwig (AMNH), Erika Paliza (CEBIO), Mark Hafner (LSUMZ). For critical comments on an early draft of this report, we thank Adriana Bravo, Alfred Gardner, Kerry Kline, Hugo Mantilla-Meluk, Miguel Pinto, and one anonymous reviewer. We are grateful to Eliécer Gutiérrez, who kindly took pictures of a USNM specimen. We thank CEBIO for the logistical help during the duration of this study. Funding for this project was provided to PMV by the Gerstner and Roosevelt postdoctoral fellowships at the AMNH and by NSF grant DEB 0949859 to Nancy Simmons.


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