Rediscovery of Glauconycteris superba Hayman, 1939 (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) after 40 years at Mbiye Island, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Guy-Crispin Gembu Tungaluna, Victor Van Cakenberghe, Prescott Musaba Akawa, Benjamin Dudu Akaibe, Erik Verheyen, Frits De Vree, Jakob Fahr


We report the rediscovery of the Pied Butterfly Bat, Glauconycteris superba Hayman, 1939, 40 years after this species was last recorded. The new specimen from Mbiye Island, Democratic Republic of the Congo, is compared with the type specimens of G. s. superba and G. superba sheila Hayman, 1947 and a specimen from Matonguiné, Ivory Coast. The variation in the striking colouration of the pelage as well as in morphometric data is considered to be individual rather than geographic variation and we tentatively regard G. s. sheila as a synonym of the nominate form. Despite the wide distribution of this species in the tropical forest zone of West and Central Africa, only four specimens from four localities are known to date, which might indicate very specific habitat preferences. Contemporary land cover information around historic collection sites shows degraded landscapes. Given the highly uncertain area of occupancy of this species, we suggest changing the status of G. superba in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species from “Least Concern” to “Data Deficient”.


bats; morphometrics; taxonomy; distribution; conservation

Full Text:




Chatelain C., Dao H., Gautier L. & Spichiger R. 2004. Forest cover changes in Côte d’Ivoire and Upper Guinea. In: Poorter L., Bongers F., Kouamé F.N. & Hawthorne W.D. (eds) Biodiversity of West African Forests. An Ecological Atlas of Woody Plant Species: 15-32. CABI Publishing, Wallingford.

Duveiller G., Defourny P., Desclée B. & Mayaux P. 2008. Deforestation in Central Africa: Estimates at regional, national and landscape levels by advanced processing of systematically-distributed Landsat extracts. Remote Sensing of Environment 112 (5): 1969-1981.

Fahr J. 2013. Glauconycteris superba Pied butterfly bat. In: Happold M. & Happold D.C.D. (eds) The Mammals of Africa. Vol. 4: Hedgehogs, Shrews and Bats: 575-576. Bloomsbury, London.

Fahr J., Jacobs D., Cotterill F.P.D. & Taylor P.J. 2008. Glauconycteris superba. In: IUCN (2012) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. Available from [accessed 3 Sep. 2012].

Fisher D.O. & Blomberg S.P. 2012. Inferring extinction of mammals from sighting records, threats, and biological traits. Conservation Biology 26 (1): 57-67.

Hall L.S. & Richards G.C. 1979. Bats of Eastern Australia. Queensland Museum booklet 12, Queensland Museum ,Brisbane.

Hayman R.W. 1939. Two new mammals from the Belgian Congo. Annals and Magazine of natural History 11 3 (14): 219-224.

Hayman R.W. 1947 [for 1946]. A new race of Glauconycteris superba from West Africa. Annals and Magazine of natural History 11 13 (104): 547-550.

Hayman R.W. & Hill J.E. 1971. Order Chiroptera. In: Meester J. & Setzer H.W. (eds) The Mammals of Africa. An Identification Manual Part 2: 1-73. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington.

Hayman R.W., Misonne X., Verheyen W.N. 1966. The bats of the Congo and of Rwanda and Burundi. Annales du Musée royal de l’Afrique Centrale (série Zoologie) 154, Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale, Tervuren.

Hijmans R.J., Cameron S.E., Parra J.L., Jones P.G. & Jarvis A. 2005. Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for global land areas. International Journal of Climatology 25 (15): 1965-1978.

Hill J.E. & Smith J.D. 1984. Bats: A Natural History. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Koopman K.F. 1971. Taxonomic notes on Chalinolobus and Glauconycteris (Chiroptera, Vespertilionidae). American Museum Novitates 2451: 1-10. Available from [accessed 5 Nov. 2012].

Lejoly J., Ndjele L. & Geerinck D. 2010. Catalogue-flore des plantes vasculaires des districts de Kisangani et de la Tshopo (RD Congo). 4th Edition. D.J.P. de Blaay, Durbuy, Belgium.

Lim B.K. & Dunlop J.M. 2008. Evolutionary patterns of morphology and behavior as inferred from a molecular phylogeny of New World emballonurid bats (Tribe Diclidurini). Journal of Mammalian Evolution 15 (2): 79-121.

Mayaux P., Bartholomé E., Fritz S. & Belward A. 2004. A new land-cover map of Africa for the year 2000. Journal of Biogeography 31 (6): 861-877.

Nowak R.M. 1999. Walker’s Mammals of the World. Vol. 1. 6th Edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Nshimba H.S. 2008. Etude floristique, écologique et phytosociologique des forêts de l’île Mbiye à Kisangani, RD Congo. PhD thesis, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium. Available from [accessed 29 October 2012].

Peterson R.L. & Smith D.A. 1973. A new species of Glauconycteris (Vespertilionidae, Chiroptera). Life Science Occasional Papers 22: 1-9.

Rambaldini D.A. 2010. Glauconycteris variegata (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae). Mammalian Species 42 (1): 251-258.

Rosevear D.R. 1965. The Bats of West Africa. Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History), London.

Santana S.E., Dial T.O., Eiting T.P. & Alfaro M.E. 2011. Roosting ecology and the evolution of pelage markings in bats. PLoS ONE 6 (10), e25845.

Yalden D.W. & Morris P.A. 1975. The Lives of Bats. David & Charles, Newton Abbot.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

License URL:





Credits for header's photographs