Breeding season of Epomophorus walhbergi in the lowveld of Swaziland

Monadjem, Ara, and Reside, April E. (2012) Breeding season of Epomophorus walhbergi in the lowveld of Swaziland. African Zoology, 47 (2). pp. 321-325.

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Wahlberg's epauletted fruit bat, Epomophorus wahlbergi, is a common and widespread fruit bat in the eastern parts of southern Africa, with a distribution extending from equatorial Africa through to southern South Africa (Volpers & Kumirai 1995; Monadjem et al. 2010). Yet despite its abundance, relatively little is known about its breeding biology, particularly at higher latitudes (Monadjem et al. 2010). For example, during extensive mammal surveys in the former Transvaal province of South Africa, Rautenbach (1982) did not collect a single pregnant or lactating female of this species. As breeding in bats is generally associated with peak food abundances (Okia 1974), clinal differences in the timing of parturition of bats has been recorded in species with distributions spanning widely across latitudes, including E. wahlbergi (Bernard & Cumming 1997). Close to the equator, this species has two birth periods in February–March and in October–December (Bergmans 1979; O'Shea & Vaughan 1980), or an extended period from October to January (Wickler & Sieber 1976; Bernard & Cumming 1997), similar to other congeneric species in this region (Okia 1974). Further south in Malawi and Zambia this species has been described as 'aseasonally polyoestrus' with births from September to March (Happold & Happold 1990). In southern Africa, this species has been described as 'seasonally polyoestrus' (Skinner & Chimimba 2005). Although Taylor (1998) reported that in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa 'breeding occurs throughout the year with peaks in July and in the summer'. However, this statement was based on an unpublished dataset by C. Sapsford, and further details were not presented (Taylor 1998). In Zimbabwe, gravid females have been recorded in June and December (Smithers & Wilson 1979), suggesting an extended breeding season. By contrast, in Kruger National Park, South Africa, parturition has been recorded in November–December (Pienaar et al. 1980). This study aimed to elucidate the breeding season of E. wahlbergi in Swaziland based on the capture of 340 individuals netted over a 21-month survey in the northeast of the country. We hypothesized that females would give birth over an extended period of at least six months as in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe (Smithers &Wilson 1979; Happold & Happold 1990), since we except the phenology of fruiting trees to be similar these two areas.

Item ID: 25386
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2224-073X
Keywords: Epomophorus wahlbergi, fruit bat, breeding, Swaziland
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2013 04:25
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060208 Terrestrial Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960399 Climate and Climate Change not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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