Jamaican Greater Funnel-eared Bat
(Natalus jamaicensis)
This species is a member of a small, ancient family of cave-dwelling bats that evolved in the West Indies. Recently recognized as a distinct species, the Jamaican Greater Funnel-Eared Bat is known from a single locality – St. Clair Cave in central Jamaica – where the surviving population numbers fewer than 100 individuals. The cave also contains a resident population of feral cats which are known to feed on bats, and the Jamaican Greater Funnel-Eared Bat is particularly vulnerable because it roosts low down on cave walls. The highly restricted geographical range, low population numbers and predation threat make this species highly vulnerable to extinction, but there are no invasive predator control measures or any other official protection currently in place at St. Clair Cave.
Urgent Conservation Actions
Official protection and control of feral cat population at St. Clair Cave.
Evolutionary Distinctiveness
Order: Chiroptera
Family: Natalidae
The Natalidae is a small, ancient New World family of cave-dwelling bats that diverged from other bats during the early Tertiary. The natalids have been endemic to the West Indies probably since the beginning of their evolutionary history, which may explain some of their ecological characteristics (e.g. cave roosting). Two independent lineages of natalids have successfully colonized the mainland Americas from the West Indies. The genus Natalus is represented in the Greater Antilles today by three distinct species, each endemic to a single island (Cuba, Hispaniola and Jamaica), which were formerly thought to be conspecific before detailed morphometric and genetic analyses were carried out.
Head and body length: 35-55 mm
Weight: 4-10 g
These cave-dwelling bats are characterized by funnel-like ears and a tail about equal in length to the head and body. Natalus jamaicensis has a long forearm but a relatively small skull compared to the two other West Indian Natalus species, N.major and N. primus. The long, soft fur is generally grey to yellowish, with a faint lighter-coloured band across the shoulders. N. jamaicensis can also be distinguished from other species by its fluttering, moth-like flight.
This species occurs in a ‘’hot cave”: a cave with poor ventilation and nearly constant high temperatures (26-40°C) and humidity (>90%), which typically contain large bat communities. These bats roost in groups scattered on the lower parts of the cave walls at about 1 m above the ground and occasionally on the low roofs of wall ledges. The biology of this species is poorly known, although it is likely to be insectivorous, probably foraging in relatively dense vegetation and over relatively small home ranges.
N. jamaicensis is a cave-roosting bat known from a single “hot cave” location. It occurs in a very dry and arid area with xerophytic (dry-adapted) vegetation.
Today the species is known from a single “hot cave”, St. Clair Cave in central Jamaica, although it has also been recorded from other cave sites across Jamaica in the recent fossil record.
Population Estimate
Estimated at fewer than 100 individuals.
Population Trend
Classified as Critically Endangered (EN B1ab(iii,v)) on the 2010 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The main threat to the Jamaican Greater Funnel-Eared Bat is the presence of a resident population of feral cats in St. Clair Cave. Cats are known to be highly effective predators of bats, and the Jamaican Greater Funnel-Eared Bat is particularly vulnerable because it roosts low down on cave walls. Changes to the thermal balance of St. Clair Cave through erosion or future climatic change are also a serious concern.
Conservation Underway
Conservation Proposed
Invasive predator control measures at St. Clair Cave, this bat’s only known roost site, are an urgent conservation priority. Unfortunately, with the exception of Windsor Great Cave in the Jamaican Cockpit Country, no cave in Jamaica, including St. Clair Cave, receives any form of official protection.
Dávalos, L. 2005. Molecular phylogeny of funnel-eared bats (Chiroptera: Natalidae), with notes on biogeography and conservation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37: 91-103.

Tejedor, A., Tavares, V. C. and Silva-Taboada, G. 2005. A revision of extant Greater Antillean bats of the genus Natalus. American Museum Novitates 3493: 1-22.

Velazco, P. & Turvey, S. 2008. Natalus jamaicensis. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 15 November 2010.

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