Reproduction and growth in three species of West African fruit bats


*Biology Department, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada K1S 5B6.


This study outlines the reproduction periods of the African fruit bats Epomops buettikoferi, Epomophorus garnbianus, and Micropteropus pusillus at two West African savanna sites: a wet southern Guinea savanna and a drier southern Sudanese savanna. At both sites the two annual birth periods were timed such that both lactation by only one weaning period coincided with the rainy season peaks in fruit availability. On this basis we propose that lactation rather than weaning was the important determinant of the timing of reproduction. There was no evidence of cycling of testes size in males corresponding with the seasonal mating periods. E. buettikoferi and M. pusillus females mated at six months and gave birth at the age of 12 months. Males of the two species reached puberty by 11 months and seven months, respectively. Growth rates did not differ between cohorts growing through the wet and dry season and E. buettikoferi and M. pusillus grew at rates of 276 mg/day and 116 mg/day, respectively.