Robert M. R. Barclay and Theodore H. Fleming
The morphological, ecological and behavioral diversity found among the Phyllostomidae might be expected to be associated with variation in reproductive patterns and life history traits. Using data from the primary literature for 71 species, we summarize reproductive and life history variation in this family and test predictions based on life history theory. The expectation for variation is at least partly supported. Monestry, seasonal (bimodal) polyestry, and aseasonal polyestry occur, with larger species, island species or populations, and animalivorous species being most likely to be monestrus. Litter size is universally one, however. As in other bats, phyllostomids have a “slow” life history with late maturity, one offspring per litter, and long lives for their size. Females produce relatively large offspring at birth (mean = 28% of adult mass), although relative size declines with adult mass. Young are dependent on their mother until they are almost full size at the time of weaning. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of data for many other life history traits and this precludes in-depth analyses of patterns and factors associated with variation. Many interesting evolutionary questions remain to be addressed and the variation in other aspects of the family make phyllostomids ideal subjects to test general questions regarding the evolution of reproductive and life history traits of mammals.