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Pteropus pelewensis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CHIROPTERA PTEROPODIDAE

Scientific Name: Pteropus pelewensis
Species Authority: K. Andersen, 1908
Common Name(s):
English Palau Flying Fox
Taxonomic Notes: Pteropus pelewensis is often considered to be a subspecies of P. mariannus (Wiles 2005). We follow Simmons (2005) who lists P. pelewensis as a distinct species pending further investigation.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Wiles, G.
Reviewer(s): Lamoreux, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team), Racey, P.A., Medellín, R. & Hutson, A.M. (Chiroptera Red List Authority)
Justification:
Listed as Near Threatened because although the species is common within its restricted range, and its populations appear to be stable (if not increasing), its extent of occurrence is less than 5,000 km2, and the extent and quality of its habitat is declining, thus making the species close to qualifying for Vulnerable under criterion B1. The species is still hunted fairly heavily for subsistence and local commercial use. Current harvest levels do not appear to be unsustainable, but more survey work on this topic is desirable.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to Palau. It is widespread in the main islands of Palau, but is also present on nearby Kayangel Atoll and on the more distant islands of Sonsorol and Fanna. It is known from sea level to 213 m asl. (the highest point in the islands).
Countries:
Native:
Palau
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Two studies of its abundance in Palau were conducted using point counts from April to May 1991 (Wiles et al. 1997) and from April to May 2005 (G. Wiles, unpublished data). Both studies were inconclusive about total numbers, but provided baseline encounter rates that could, and should, be repeated in the future to determine population trends. Data from 2005 have not yet been analyzed, but bats were common in many locations. Numbers appeared to have increased since 1991. Prior to the early 1990s the species had gone through a large decline due to commercial exploitation with thousands of bats being exported annually to markets in Guam and the Northern Marianas. In the 1940s the species was considered abundant (Marshall 1945, as reported in Wiles et al. 1997), but by the 1970s numbers were starting to decline (Owen 1977), and at some point in the 1980s this trend reversed itself with less bats being exported (Wiles et al. 1997).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Palau flying-fox can be found in a range of habitats, but they appear to prefer tropical moist forest and swamp forest. Although they can be regularly seen feeding in villages and farms, they do not roost near human settlement. Likewise, they inhabit savannas and mangroves, but are less numerous here than in their preferred habitats. Mangrove use is also likely to be seasonal with the bats heavily using these areas when Sonneratia alba is in bloom (Wiles et al. 1997).

Most of the population appears to roost solitarily or in small groups. Colonies are uncommon, usually containing 30-200 animals (Wiles et al. 1997). There may be a few colonies that number into the thousands, but this is unproven, and unlike P. mariannus, is probably rare. Palau flying-fox also has the unusual tendency to form regular colonies for only a few hours in the early morning. Females are thought to give birth annually to a single young.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is listed as having international trade, although since the species was listed on CITES Appendix I this trade has effectively been halted.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threat to this species has always been over-exploitation, primarily for commercial trade outside of Palau, but also for local use (Wiles et al. 1997). Hunting for commercial export ended in 1994, but considerable hunting for local consumption continues (G. Wiles, unpublished data).

Deforestation and development, particularly of roads of the largest island of Babeldaob, were identified as future threats in the 1990s (Wiles et al. 1997), and these threats are present today (Hinchley et al. 2007). Additionally, large typhoons, while uncommon in Palau, are a potential threat not only because of the direct loss of bats these storms can inflict, or even the loss of habitat, but there is often a sharp increase in hunting of Pacific island Pteropus bats that follows major storm events (e.g., Esselstyn et al. 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is known from a number of protected areas. It is listed on CITES Appendix I. Studies are needed to determine the species' status/abundance, population trends, exploitation levels, ability to withstand habitat degradation, and taxonomic standing. Wiles et al. (1997) recommended a hunting ban within 100 m of bat roosts, further enforcement of a ban of firearms, and the consideration of three sites as potential protected areas, including: Ngeream Island and another unnamed island to the south-east in Airai State, the Rock Islands, and the area along the border between Melekeok and Ngiwal States in central Babeldaob Island.

Citation: Wiles, G. 2008. Pteropus pelewensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 03 September 2014.
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