Conservation status

In terms of relative abundance, American leaf-nosed bats range from rare to very common. Rarity or commonness in these bats is mostly associated with their food habits or trophic position. As expected, carnivores such as Vampyrum spectrum are rare. Insectivorous phyllostomines in general are also far less common in any habitat than frugivorous carolliinines or stenodermatines. Flower visitors tend to be substantially less common than fruit-eaters. The local abundance of common vampires varies tremendously and is correlated with the availability of domestic animals. In primary forest, vampires are uncommon, but they can be very common in disturbed habitats whenever they have regular access to livestock.

In 2001, the IUCN/SSC Chiroptera Specialist Group listed four species of phyllostomids as Endangered and 25 species as Vulnerable. The endangered species included Phyllonycteris aphylla on Jamaica, Chiroderma improvisum on Guadeloupe and Montserrat, and Sturnira thomasi on Guadeloupe, as well as Lep-tonycteris nivalis in Mexico. The vulnerable species included seven phyllostomines, five lonchophyllines, four glossophagines, and nine stenodermatines. Only two of these species, Ariteus flavescens and Stenoderma rufum, occur on islands.

Phyllostomid bats, and Latin American bats in general, suffer from the "vampire problem," meaning most Latin Americans consider all bats to be vampiros that should be destroyed. Millions of cave-dwelling bats in Mexico alone have been killed in recent decades as a result of misguided vampire-control programs. Until enlightened vampire-control methods become widespread in Latin America, all colonially roosting bats are vulnerable to local destruction. Bat Conservation International, located in Austin, Texas, United States, has made a major effort to disseminate information about the selective control of vampires in areas where they pose an economic threat in Latin America.

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