This first part of a revision of African fruit bats contains a short general Introduction and a section Materials and Methods, both pertaining to all parts — as are the first remarks under Results —, and a study of the genus Epomophorus Bennett, 1836. Prior important descriptions of Epomophorus are reviewed and current concepts of the generic characters relative rostrum length; relative palatal length; depression of postdental palate; palatal ridge pattern; and sexual dimorphism are modified. Of all problematical taxa within the genus type specimens have been examined. The following six species are retained: Epomophorus angolensis Gray, 1870; E. gambianus (Ogilby, 1835); E. grandis (Sanborn, 1950); E. labiatus (Temminck, 1837); E. minor Dobson, 1880; E. wahlbergi (Sundevall, 1846). On morphological and distributional grounds E. crypturus Peters, 1852 and E. pousarguesi Trouessart, 1904 are ranked as subspecies of E. gambianus. The holotype and only known adult specimen of E. reii Aellen, 1950 is considered an aberrant specimen of E. g. gambianus, and E. reii is synonymized with that species. On allometric grounds E. gambianus parvus Ansell, 1960 is considered a synonym of E. gambianus crypturus. Based on an examination of the type specimen, the skull of which is figured for the first time, arguments are put forward for a new concept of E. labiatus, deviating considerably from the standard set by Andersen in 1912. Its type locality is changed from “Sennar” into the original “Abyssinia” again. E. anurus is synonymized with E. labiatus and denied the subspecific status granted to it by other authors. The geographical variation of size within E. wahlbergi is analyzed and as a result subspecific divisions on the basis of differences in size are rejected as untenable. Hence E. wahlbergi haldemani (Hallowell, 1846) is considered a synonym of E. wahlbergi. As E. minor is apparently sympatric with E. labiatus in several areas, it is treated as specifically distinct from that species. It is made clear, nevertheless, that their mutual distinctness may not hold throughout their shared distribution area. Examination of the skull characters and soft palate has led to the transfer of Micropteropus grandis Sanborn, 1950 to the genus Epomophorus. The distribution patterns of all species are critically assessed and associated with the vegetation types distinguished by White (1983). For the first time, pan-African distribution maps, including many new records, are given for all species and subspecies.


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Naturalis journals & series

Bergmans, W. (1988). Taxonomy and biogeography of African Fruit Bats (Mammalia, Megachiroptera). 1. General introduction; material and methods; results: the genus Epomophorus Bennett, 1836. Beaufortia, 38(5), 75–146.