Monday, August 14, 2017

[Mammalogy • 2017] Nyctimene wrightae • A New Tube-nosed Fruit Bat (Pteropodidae: Chiroptera) from New Guinea, A Re-diagnosis of N. certans and N. cyclotis, and A Review of their Conservation Status

Nyctimene wrightae Irwin, 2017

 The tube-nosed fruit bat genus Nyctimene comprises 18 species found in the Philippines, Wallacea, Melanesia and the Solomon Islands but species taxonomy has remained problematic. A review of the cyclotis group, consisting of N. cyclotis and N. certans from New Guinea is presented, using morphological and genetic data. Historically, the taxonomy of the cyclotis group has been severely impeded by the lack of illustrations or photographs of the majority of the types. This led authors to differ in their treatment of these species, suggesting that the distinct taxa N. cyclotis and N. certans might be conspecific. Here, N. cyclotis and N. certans are recognized as full species and are re-diagnosed. I describe Nyctimene wrightae sp. nov., a widespread New Guinean species which is tentatively placed in the cyclotis group. These three species and the sympatric N. a. papuanus, of similar body-size, are morphologically distinguished using discriminant function analyses and non-metric characters. An identification key is provided. Species distribution and conservation status are evaluated. The IUCN threat status recommended for each species is: N. wrightae sp. nov. Least Concern; N. certans (known from < 200 specimens) with unknown population size and trends, Data Deficient; and N. cyclotis, known from only two male specimens, Vulnerable. Further research is required on the basic ecology of all of these species, which remains virtually unknown. 

Keywords. Nyctimene; taxonomy; revision; Papua New Guinea; Indonesia; cryptic species; conservation; IUCN threat category; Happy tube-nosed fruit bat

Nyctimene wrightae sp. nov. Female with young pup attached, showing characteristic long ears with thickened edge and short, brown hair (photograph courtesy of Debra Wright).

Nyctimene wrightae sp. nov.

Etymology. With great pleasure I name this bat after Dr Debra Wright, Director for Wildlife Conservation Foundation, PNG 1996–2003, the co-founder of PNG Research Foundation and PNG Institute of Biological Research. She has tirelessly given her energy and considerable skills to capacity building and training Papuan New Guinean scientists. She provided logistic assistance for my team and I, helped me secure funding, provided access to facilities, and gave moral and intellectual support throughout my field-work. Her good humour, boundless energy, passion and generosity meant that despite spending many years together in remote places, we have formed a lifelong friendship. It was this cryptic bat species that started my whole journey with Nyctimene

Common name. Happy tube-nosed fruit bat. Field assistants Toby Kamli and Rafael Kaneg, noticed the difference between this species and N. a. papuanus in the hand and called this species the hamamas bat, which in Tok Pisin means the happy bat, due to the wide “smile” characteristic of this species. I therefore propose the happy tube-nosed fruit bat as the common name, alluding to the “smile” that seems to result from the broad dental arcade and palate and very short rostrum, which are diagnostic characters of the species.

  Nancy Irwin. 2017. A New Tube-nosed Fruit Bat from New Guinea, Nyctimene wrightae sp. nov., A Re-diagnosis of N. certans and N. cyclotis (Pteropodidae: Chiroptera), and A Review of their Conservation Status. Records of the Australian Museum. 69(2): 73–100. DOI: 10.3853/j.2201-4349.69.2017.1654
Yoda bat gets happy: New species officially recognised - News and events, The University of York

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