Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Old bat gets a new name

Date:
October 29, 2013
Source:
Pensoft Publishers
Summary:
The Mortlock Islands flying fox, a species threatened by climate change and rising sea levels, is one of the world's least studied bats. A new study presents the first detailed research on wild populations of this endangered species. The study also shows that the species was discovered and named by a German naturalist almost 50 years earlier than previously realized.

(A) This 1882 illustration of the Mortlock flying fox from Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London uses the now incorrect name for the animal. Its original and correct name is “Pteropus pelagicus.” Shown is the scanned image of Plate LIV from original description of Pteropus phaeocephalus Thomas 1882, which is presumably based on the holotype (B) dorsal view and (C) ventral view of Pteropuspelagicus pelagicus from Satawan Atoll (D) ventral view and (E) dorsal view of Pteropusphaeocephalus insularis from Weno, Chuuk Lagoon.
Credit: Original lithograph by Edwin Wilson, CC-BY 3.0, Courtesy Zookeys

A specimen preserved in a jar of alcohol in The Natural History Museum, London has remained the only record of the Mortlock Islands flying fox, one of the least known bat species on the planet, for over 140 years. That is until now. A team of bat biologists led by Dr. Don Buden from the College of Micronesiahas collected new information about this "forgotten" species, and studied it in the wild for the first time. The study is reported today in the open access journal ZooKeys.

Related Articles


The original London specimen was collected in 1870 from the remote Mortlock Islands, a series of low-lying atolls and part of the Federated States of Micronesia in the west-central Pacific Ocean. British biologist Oldfield Thomas used this specimen to name the species Pteropus phaeocephalus in 1882. However, information uncovered by Dr. Buden proves that a German naturalist, voyaging on a Russian Expedition, got there first.

"We found a report written by F.H. Kittlitz in 1836 describing his expedition to the Pacific Islands in the late 1820s. In that report he describes the flying-foxes of the Mortlocks and names them Pteropus pelagicus. This means the species was named long before Thomas's description in 1882" said Buden.

According to internationally established rules for naming animals, the earliest available scientific name of a species must be officially adopted, so the Mortlock Islands flying fox is now correctly known as Pteropus pelagicus. Not only does Kittlitz correctly deserve credit for the discovery of the species, 50 years earlier than previously thought, but he can also be now credited for the "new" name. Furthermore, Buden and colleagues demonstrated that flying foxes from the nearby islands of Chuuk Lagoon, long regarded as a separate species (Pteropus insularis), are also best regarded as a subspecies of Pteropus pelagicus, showing that the species has a wider geographic distribution than previously realized.

New fieldwork in the Mortlock Islands revealed more than name changes. The ZooKeys article describes the first study of the behavior, diet, and conservation status of this flying fox, finding that the Mortlock Islands support a small population of 900 to 1200 bats scattered across a land surface of only 12 km2 (4.6 square miles). Legal rules have brought better protection to the species, which was once heavily hunted. But the future of the species is still uncertain in its island home. Rising sea levels, generated by climate change, threaten the flying foxes' habitat and food resources through flooding, erosion, and contamination of freshwater supplies.

"This remarkable study shows how much we have to learn about Pacific Islands mammals, "said Prof. Tim Flannery of Macquarie University in Sydney, who was not involved in the research. "Where there was darkness, Dr. Buden and colleagues have shed light."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Don Buden, Kristofer M. Helgen, Gary Wiles. Taxonomy, distribution, and natural history of flying foxes (Chiroptera, Pteropodidae) in the Mortlock Islands and Chuuk State, Caroline Islands. ZooKeys, 2013; 345: 97 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.345.5840

Cite This Page:

Pensoft Publishers. "Old bat gets a new name." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131029133550.htm>.
Pensoft Publishers. (2013, October 29). Old bat gets a new name. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131029133550.htm
Pensoft Publishers. "Old bat gets a new name." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131029133550.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying Black Seadevil Fish Captured on First-of-Its Kind Video

Terrifying Black Seadevil Fish Captured on First-of-Its Kind Video

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) An aquarium captures a first-of-its kind video of a notoriously camera-shy fish that’s also not so camera-friendly. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Red Panda Cubs Explore the Bratislava Zoo

Red Panda Cubs Explore the Bratislava Zoo

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) Four-month old Red Panda twins Pim and Pam still rely on their mother for breast milk at the Bratislava Zoo in Slovakia, but the precocious cubs have begun to branch out to solid foods, as well. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Scientists Shine Light on World's Least-Studied Bat

Oct. 29, 2013 The Mortlock Islands flying fox, a large, breadfruit-eating bat native to a few remote and tiny Pacific islands, has long been regarded as one of the world's least studied bats. Today ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins