Pteronotus parnellii was recognized in the 1980s to contain 9 subspecies, with the subspecies P. p. parnellii restricted to Jamaica and Cuba. However, in 2013 Clare et al. concluded from molecular, morphological, and acoustic data that parnellii is a cryptic species, with four distinct species on the mainland which are different from the species occurring in the Greater Antilles. Pending final analyses, the species known as Pteronotus parnellii will either be endemic to Jamaica or restricted to Jamaica and Cuba. As the type locality, Jamaica retains the name assigned by Gray in 1843.
In Cuba, diet (from analyses of stomach contents) is dominated by moths (Lepidoptera). Orthoptera, Diptera, Coleoptera and Hemiptera are consumed less frequently (Silva Taboada 1979).
Considerable research has been conducted on the echolocation system and communication calls of Pteronotus parnellii. It is the only Mormoopidae in Jamaica and, indeed, the only bat in the New World, to use a constant-frequency (CF), as opposed to a frequency-modulated (FM), echolocation signal. CF calls allow this species to hunt insects (esp. moths) within a densely-cluttered forest (Schnitzler et al. 1991). CF echoes that are a consequence of Doppler effects associated with the fluttering wingbeats of insects enable this species to distinguish echoes of potential prey from echoes produced by cluttered vegetation (Kṏssl et al. 1999, 2003).
After departing from Windsor Great Cave shortly before sunset, Pteronouts parnellii commute along flyways associated with the vegetation patterns of the landscape: streams of P. parnellii can be seen crossing roads only where tree-crowns connect over the road. The most distant segment of the flyway we've identified thus far is located a linear 3.2 km north of the top opening of Windsor Great Cave; however, based on acoustic surveys we've conducted on the north coast, in the Coral Spring-Mountain Spring Protected Area (16 km northeast of Windsor), we suspect the flyway used by P. parnellii may be a considerable corridor for them.
Data presented on the Windsor Great Cave colony were collected through the support of:
Clare, E.L., A.M. Adams, A. Z. Maya-Simoes, J.L. Eger, P. D.N. Hebert, and M.B. Fenton. 2013. Diversification and reproductive isolation: cryptic species in the only New World high-duty cycle bat, Pteronotus parnellii. BMC Evolutionary Biology 2013, 13:26.
Emrich, M.A., E.L. Clare, W.O.C. Symondson, S.E. Koenig, and M.B. Fenton. 2013.
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Kṏssl, M., E. Foeller, M. Drexl, M. Vater, E. Mora, F. Coro, and I.J. Russell. 2003. Postnatal development of cochlear function in the Mustached Bat Pteronotus parnellii. Journal of Neurophysiology 90:2261-2273.
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Silva-Taboada, G. 1979. Los murciélogos de Cuba. Habana. Editorial de la Academia de Ciencias de Cuba. pp. 425.