Communication in this species has not been fully described. Members of the genus Hipposideros are known to have some vocalizations. They echolocate to capture prey in addition to using the noises made by the prey themselves. It is likely that tactile communication occurs within the roost, between offspring and the mother, and between mates. Olfaction is typically important in mammals, and may play some role in identifying individuals or reproductive conditions in this species. Although these bats have eyes, most microchiropterans are not known for their well developed visual abilities.
Communication Channels: tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; echolocation ; chemical
The conservation status of these animals remains unknown. Although over 34 members of the genus Hipposideros are listed as endangered, vulnerable, or threatened by various agencies, H. commersoni is not listed by CITES or IUCN.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
There are no known adverse affects of H. commersoni on humans
Roosting caves of H. commersoni in some regions of equatorial Africa have very high densities of bats, and have been inhabited by these animals for many, many years. The feces, or guano, from the bats is important commercially in these areas as a source of nitrogen for fertilizers.
Positive Impacts: produces fertilizer
Because H. commersoni feeds primarily on beetles and has very few natural predators, we can speculate that this species is near top of of the food chain but does not occupy the keystone species niche in its woodland habitat. Commerson's leaf-nosed bats might have a slightly larger ecological role in the cave ecosystem, into which the bats bring large amounts of nitrogen.
Commerson's leaf-nosed bats use their powerful jaws and sharp canines to catch and consume large beetles. The bats have evolved two different strategies to capture prey: Sedentary observation and collection, and hunting actively during flight. The sedentary perching involves flying to a known roost and scan the area. When prey is observed, the bat flies from the perch to collect it, then returns to the roost to consume the prey item. The second strategy involves actively searching for the prey by flying at a level of about 2 meters actively echolocating for prey on the ground.
Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods
Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )
Giant leaf-nosed bats, also known as Commerson's leaf-nosed bats, are distributed throughout equatorial Africa and on the island of Madagascar. Recent studies have divided the species into 5 subspecies based on distinct regions of occurrence. Hipposideros commersoni commersoni is found only on the island of Madagascar. Hipposideros commersoni thomensis is located on the islands of Principe and Sao Tome. Hipposideros commersoni gigas is primarily located in western regions of equatorial Africa. Hipposideros commersoni niangarae is located only in the Niangara Region of the Congo. Hipposideros commersoni marungensis has the largest range and is found from East Africa to South Africa and Namibia.
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
Commerson's leaf-nosed bats are known to prefer areas of edge habitat. Such areas provide perches along the corridors the bats use to travel. Large congregations occur in regions of dolomite because of the caves formed. In other regions smaller colonies are located in small caves and in hollow trees.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest
Other Habitat Features: caves
No data for H. commersoni could be found, however, other members of the genus have been aged to at least twelve years old based on band recovery data. This species is probably similar in longevity to other members of the genus.
Commerson's leaf-nosed bats are among the largest insectivorous members of the suborder Microchiroptera, ranging in weight from 40 to 180 g when mature. Lengths are reported at between 110 and 145 mm, and wingspans between 540 and 560 mm are recorded. Males are typically larger than females. Distinct skeletal characteristics of the species include a large sagital crest that is more prominent in males. Large canines and stout mandibles are other characters of the skull which are useful in identification. Pelage color ranges from a pale-grey to reddish-grey with tawny underparts. An elaborate nose leaf and falcate ears rounded near the tip distinguish H. commersoni.
Range mass: 40 to 180 g.
Average mass: 130 g.
Range length: 110 to 145 mm.
Range wingspan: 540 to 560 mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger
Bat hawks are reported to be predatory on these bats. It is likey that other small mammals and snakes may prey on this species as well. Vulnerability to predation is often highest for bats as these animals emerge from roosting sites.
Hipposideros commersoni males exhibit a form of resource defense polygyny, protecting access to areas of daylight roosts. Females apparently choose their mates based upon the quality of roosting areas they defend.
Mating System: polygynous
Breeding in H. commersoni occurs once per year, and takes place between February and June. Females typically give birth to 1 pup after a gestation of around 4 months. The young are born at the start of the hot wet season when food availability is high. Weaning occurs around 14 weeks of age. Females may carry their young with them for about the first month of its life, as in Hipposideros fulvus, although data on H. commersoni are lacking on this facet of behavior. Other species of the genus Hipposideros are said to reach reproductive maturity around the age of 18 or 19 months, and H. commersoni is probably similar in this regard. In many species within the genus Hipposideros there is delayed implantation of the embryo after fertilization, and there may be variablilty in the length of development which is related to distance from the tropics. It is not known to what extent such characters are expressed in H. commersoni.
Breeding interval: Breeding occurs once annually.
Breeding season: Copulation occurs near the end of the cool dry season (between February and June).
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average gestation period: 4 months.
Average weaning age: 14 weeks.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous ; delayed implantation
Colonies of H. commersoni have been known to increase the humidity and temperature in the microclimate used for giving birth. This increased temperature is expected to provide more rapid development and reduce time until weaning. This is critical because the young must learn to forage before the end of the wet season during which food is plentiful. The nursing period is expected to be much shorter (approximately 14 weeks) than in other members of the genus, which nurse for about 5 months. Because of this accelerated schedule, the milk quality must be very high to allow for rapid skeletal growth. Because of the high cost of lactation to the female, she may enter torpor during the day to reduce her energetic costs. Males are not known to directly aid in care of the young.
Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female)