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Mastozoología neotropical

versão impressa ISSN 0327-9383versão On-line ISSN 1666-0536

Mastozool. neotrop. vol.22 no.1 Mendoza jun. 2015



First record of the big free-tailed bat, Nyctinomops macrotis (chiroptera, molossidae), for the semi-arid caatinga scrublands of northeastern Brazil


Patrício A. da Rocha1,2, Anderson Feijó2, Mônica A. Pedroso3, and Stephen F. Ferrari1,2

1 Universidade Federal de Sergipe, Departamento de Ecologia, 49100-000 São Cristóvão, Sergipe, Brazil. [correspondence: Patrício A. da Rocha <>].
2 Universidade Federal da Paraíba, Departamento de Sistemática e Ecologia, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Zoologia, 58059-900 João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil.
3 Universidade de Mogi das Cruzes, Campus da Sede, 08780-911, Mogi das Cruzes, São Paulo, Brazil.

Recibido 15 octubre 2014.
Aceptado 3 enero 2015.
Editor asociado: P Velazco


Nyctinomops macrotis Gray, 1840 is amply distributed in the New World, ranging between the southwestern United States and northern Argentina. In Brazil, however, most records are concentrated in the southern Atlantic Forest, with few data from other regions, and none at all from the semi-arid Caatinga scrub­lands of the Northeast. This study presents the first record of N. macrotis for this biome, and a major extension of the known range for this species in Brazil.


Primeiro registro do grande morcego de cauda livre, Nyctinomops macrotis (Chiroptera, Molossidae), para a Caatinga semi-árida do nordeste do Brasil.

Nyctinomops macrotis Gray, 1840 é amplamente distribuído no Novo Mundo, ocorrendo entre o sudoeste dos Estados Unidos e norte da Argentina. No Brasil, no entanto, a maioria dos registros estão concentrados na porção sul da Mata Atlântica, com alguns dados de outras regiões, e nenhum registro nas áreas semi-áridas de Caatinga do Nordeste. Este trabalho apresenta o primeiro registro de N. macrotis para este bioma, e uma grande extensão da distribuição conhecida desta espécie no Brasil.

Key words: “Boqueirão da Onça”; Dry forest; Range extension; Sento Sé.

Palavras-chave: “Boqueirão da Onça”; Extensão de distribuição; Floresta seca; Sento Sé.

Four species are currently recognized for Nyctinomops: N. aurispinosus (Peale, 1848), N. femorosaccus (Merriam, 1889), N. laticaudatus (É. Geoffroy St.-Hilaire, 1805), and N. macrotis (Gray, 1840). The genus is widely distributed in the Americas, ranging from southern United States to northern Argentina. Of the four species, only N. femorosaccus is not known to occur in Brazil (Eger, 2008).

Nyctinomops macrotis is distributed from southwestern United States to northern Argentina (Simmons, 2005). In Brazil, most records are from Atlantic Forest sites in the southeast of the country, and there are few records from the Amazon forest, Cerrado savannas or Pantanal wetlands (Fig. 1, Table 1). Prior to this report, the only record from northeastern Brazil was a fossil obtained from the Brejões Cave in Morro do Chapéu, in the state of Bahia. This fossil was dated to the Pleistocene (Czaplewski and Cartelle 1998), when the region may have been covered with more mesic habitats than those found in the present day. This study reports the first record of N. macrotis in the Caatinga biome, extending the known distribution of the species about 845 km into northeastern Brazil.

Fig. 1. Recorded localities for Nyctinomops macrotis in Brazil. Sites are numbered as in Table 1. The site of the present study is shown by a star and fossil sites by crosses.

Table 1 Localities at which the occurrence of Nyctinomops macrotis has been confirmed in Brazil. The numbers refer to the points shown in Fig. 1.

A juvenile female N. macrotis (Fig. 2A) was collected in mist-nets set at ground level at a site known as Boqueirão da Onça (9º52' S, 41°6' W) in the village of São Pedro do Lago, located in the municipality of Sento Sé, Bahia, Brazil. The site is characterized by a complex of hills and valleys covered with arboreal Caatinga (deciduous trees of 10-12 m height) which forms a closed canopy in the rainy season (December-April). In the valleys, where the specimen was captured, perennial rivers allow the formation of dense, evergreen gallery forest (Fig. 2B). The rocky substrate of the river channel contains small cavities and fissures that may serve as roosts for N. macrotis.

Fig. 2. (A) Nyctinomops macrotis and (B) site of the capture of the specimen on the Boqueirão da Onça, in the municipality of Sento Sé, Bahia, Brazil.

The specimen was handled following the recommendations of Sikes et al. (2011), fixed in 10% formaldehyde and then preserved in 70% ethanol, with the subsequent extraction of the skull. The specimen was deposited in the mammal collection of the Universidade Federal da Paraíba (UFPB 6513) in João Pessoa, Brazil. The external and cranial measurements (in mm) followed the guidelines provided by Vizotto and Taddei (1973), and are as follows: body length 74.4; tail length 48.2; hindfoot length 9.2; ear length 27.2; forearm length 60.1; tragus length 4.2; calcaneus length 17.1; greatest length of the skull 21.7; condylobasal length 20.2; palate length 8.2; palate breadth 4.4; mastoid breadth 10.9; zygomatic breadth 11.5; braincase breadth 9.9; postorbital breadth 4.15; breadth across canines 4.9; breadth across molars 8.2; maxillary toothrow 8.1; mandibular length 15.6; and mandibular toothrow 8.9.

Nyctinomops species are usually mistaken with species of Tadarida, but can be easily distinguished from them by the following characteristics: joined inner edges of the ears, ears that extend beyond the tip of the nose when inclined to the front, two pairs of lower incisors, and a few, long, and slender facial bristles (Eger, 2008). N. macrotis can be distinguished from the other members of the genus primarily by its larger size (see comparison in Kumirai and Jones, 1990), with a forearm length over 55 mm, greatest length of the skull more than 22 mm, braincase breadth usually over 9 mm, maxillary toothrow length usually less than 8.5 mm, and relatively large and deep basisphenoid pits (Kumirai and Jones, 1990; Milner et al., 1990; Eger, 2008).

Like other molossids, N. macrotis is gregarious, although it typically forms smaller colonies (15-150 individuals) when compared to some other species of the genus (Silva Taboada, 1979; Milner et al., 1990; Avila-Flores et al., 2002). While the species can be found in natural roosts such as caves, rock crevices, and tree hollows, it is also commonly found roosting in artificial structures such as roofs, bridges, and dilatation joints (Eger, 2008; Reis et al. 2002).

The capture of only one specimen in Sento Sé may reflect the relative inefficiency of mistnets set at ground level for the capture of molossids in general, whereas active searching in roosts is generally much more effective (Voss and Emmons, 1996). It seems likely that the specimen captured in the present study was roosting in one of the many rock fissures found along the river valley, which is characterized by a number of perennial bodies of water and distinct arboreal habitats in comparison with the surrounding scrub. These specific local conditions may have mediated the establishment of a population of N. macrotis in the study area, and it seems likely that other Caatinga populations of this species may be restricted to the more humid enclaves found in this biome, such as the cloud forest refuges, known as “brejos de altitude” (Andrade-Lima, 1982).

This record brings the total number of chiropteran species known to occur in the Caatinga biome to 78 (see Paglia et al., 2012), an increase of 17.9% in comparison with the 64 species reported by Oliveira et al. (2003), little more than a decade ago. It is important to note that most of the records compiled in the later study were obtained from surveys conducted in more mesic habitats and peripheral ecotonal areas adjoining neighboring biomes (Carmignotto et al., 2012). This ongoing increase of the known diversity of Caatinga bats parallels that for other groups of fauna and flora (Leal et al., 2005), reinforcing the conclusion that this semi-arid habitat has a much richer biota than originally thought (Mares et al., 1981).


We are grateful to Jadson Brito for technical assistance in the field. AF and PAR were sup­ported by graduate stipends from CAPES. SFF (processes 302747/2008-7 and 483220/2013) and PAR (501701/2013-3) thank CNPq for research stipends.


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