No research has been done specifically as of yet on the A. fistulata, however there has been research conducted on its close relative, A. geoffroyi. The A. geoffroyi has a 4-month gestation period, mandating that the bat initiate gonadal development much earlier than the preferred climate and food availability cycles. It was predicted from these results that some kind of cue must be used to initiate the gonadal development. One explanation proposed was a dependency on photoperiod, which might induce the development of the reproductive organs of these bats. Mating was found to occur from July to August and a single pup is born in late November or December. The duration of lactation occurred during the early dry season and lasted for around 1.5 to 2 months. Flowering is usually highest in the beginning of the dry season, indicating that female bats of this species have coevolved to synchronize their lactation cycle with high peaks of abundance of nectar and pollen (Heideman et. al 1992).
Heideman, P. D., Deoraj, P. and F. H. Bronson. 1992. “Seasonal reproduction of a tropical bat, Anoura geoffroyi, in relation to photoperiod”. Journals of Reprocution and Fertility 96: 765-773.
Galindo-Galindo, C., A. Castro-Campillo, A. Salame-Mendez, and Jose Ramirez-Pulido. 2000. “Reproductive events and social organization in colony of Anoura geoffroyi (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae) from a temperate Mexican cave”. Acta Zoology Mexio 80: 51-68.
Graham, G. L. 1988. “Interspecific associations among Peruvian bats at diurnal roosts and roost sites”. Journal of Mammology 69 (4).
Mantilla-Meluk, H. 2014. “Geographic and Ecological Amplitude in the Nectarivorous Bat Anoura fistulata (Phyllostimidae: Glossophaginae)”. National University of Columbia (26): 36-48.
Mantilla-Meluk, H., and R. J. Baker. 2008. “Mammalia, Chiroptera, Phyllostomidae, Anoura fistulata: Distribution extension”. Check List 4 (4): 427-430.
Mantilla-Meluk, H.. 2014. “Geographic and Ecological Amplitude in the Nectarivorous Bat Anoura Fistulata (Phyllostomidae: Glossophaginae). Caldasia 36(2).
Muchhala, N. 2006. “Nectar bat stows huge tongue in its rib cage”. Nature 444 (7).
Muchhala, N., A. Caiza, J.C. Vizuete, and J. D. Thompson. 2008. “A generalized pollination system in the tropics: bats, birds and Aphelandra acanthus”. Annals of Botany 103: 1481-1487.
Muchhala, N. and J. D. Thompson. 2009. “Going to great lengths: selection for long corolla tubes in an extremely specialized bat-flower mutualism”. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences 276 (1665): 2147-2152.
Muchhala, N. and J. D. Thompson. 2012. “Interspecific competition in pollination systems to male fitness via pollen misplacement”. Functional Ecology 26: 476-482.
Bats of the subfamily Glossophaginae are some of the most specialized nectarivores. They are known to most commonly drink nectar from the Centropogon nigricans, which has an unusually long corolla that highly correlates to the length of the tongue in the A. fistulata. Scientists had predicted that the flower must be pollinated by some kind of hawk moth with an extremely long proboscis, but with the discovery of this bat, the pollinator has been more precisely predicted. This specialization indicates a coevolution specifically between this plant and bat and is hardly seen in any other circumstances (Muchhala 2006). A. fistulata is also known to drink nectar from the flower Aphelandra acanthus indicating the possibility for a broader distribution than is presently known (Muchhala et. al 2008). A. fistulata moves from flower to flower, lapping nectar, through quick retractions and extensions of it’s tongue by sticking it’s full head into the flower (Muchhala and Thompson 2009). A. fistulata is also known to eat insects for protein and is much more efficient than some of its counterparts due to its shortened snout.
A. fistulata moves from flower to flower aiding in pollination of those specific flowers. This bat species picks up the pollen on the crown of its head and dispenses it on awaiting stigmas. A previous study found that bats in particular this bat species and it’s close relative A. geoffroyi were better polliantors than hummingbirds, depositing a significantly greater amount pollen. The interspecific accumulation of pollen by these bats, however, makes them not ideal for flowers and leads to a need for a secondary pollinator by this plant (Muchhala et. al 2008). This type of loss of pollen to foreign plants due to multiple visits is called conspecific pollen loss. This pollen misplacement could be due to a low coevolution between bat and flower as well as behavioral characteristics, increased stops between same specie flowers (Muchhala et. al 2012). Research has found that with its niche breadth, this bat is a very important pollinator of cacti.
The Anoura fistulata is differentitated from its relative the A. geoffroyi by its elongated calcar and an evident tail that protrudes past the margin of the uropatagium. The margin is in the shape of a “V”. There is a sparse fringe of hair along the margin that distinguishes this organism as well. An enlarged keel structure also serves to separate these two species. One of the most distinguishing features of the A. fistulata is its extremely long tongue. Its tongue has been measured to be greater than the length of its body (Manilla-Metuk 2008). The tongue of the A. fistulata was found to be 84.9 mm, about 150 % the times of its body length. This is proportionally longer than any other mammal, and is second only to the chameleon among vertebrates. Unlike other bats that have their tongue attached to the base of the oral cavity, the A. fistulata’s tongue passes through the neck into the thoracic cavity. In this way the tongue is stored between the heart and sternum (Muchhala 2006).
It would be expected that with such a specialized adaptation for specific flowers, this bat would be found in a small niche breadth. However, as shown by the geographic distribution, the area continues to increase. It was determined that the bat is most commonly found in drier forests. Not exactly arid environments, but locations with low precipitation and high to medium temperatures. Data has not been sufficiently researched however, and the bat has also been found to occupy a wide altitudinal gradient (Mantilla-Meluk et. al 2014). Roosting has not been determined for this specific species, but closely related species have been studied to determine their roosting preferences. Bats of the Phyllostomidae family have been found to like either trees with some protection or caves with optimal protection. This family is also known to share roots with a large number of other species (Graham 1988).
The Anoura fistulata is part of the Phyllostomidae family and Glossophaginae subfamily and was just recently described in 2005 as a new species of the Anoura genus. It is thought to have become allopatrically speciated from its closest relative, A. geoffroyi. A. fistulata is derived from the word fistula, meaning “tube”, indicating its tube shaped snout and jutting lower mandible (Mantilla-Metuk 2008).
This species occurs throughout the Ecuadorian Andes, including the eastern and western slopes of the Andes of northern Ecuador, and the slopes of the Cordillera de Cndor and Cordillera del Cutuc in southern Ecuador. Its known distribution is restricted to higher elevations (1,300-1,890 m on the eastern and 2,000-2,275 m on the western slopes), where it inhabits montane cloud forests (Muchhala et al., 2005).
This bat inhabits mid elevations of outer slopes of the Andes. One specimen was captured in the Numbala caves, where it was roosting with 4 other individuals. All specimens have been collected in mature cloud forest habitat. Anoura fistulata consumes nectar and pollen from a number of large-flowered plants, and supplements its diet with insects. Pollen was collected from the fur of 4 individuals. Three were carrying pollen from unidentified bromeliads, 2 from Marcgravia, 2 from Meriania, 2 from Centropogon nigricans, and 1 from Markea. A faecal sample collected from 1 of these 3 contained pollen of Marcgravia, Aphelandra acanthus, and bromeliads, as well as wing scales of Lepidoptera and other insect parts. The gut contents of a 5th individual contained insect parts and pollen from Pitcairnia brogniartiana, Marcgravia coriaceae, and Markea (Muchhala et al., 2005).