Environment Australia, 1999
ISBN 0 642 2546 363
Taxon summary: East Coast Freetail Bat
Scientific name: Mormopterus norfolkensis (Gray 1839)
Common name: East Coast Freetail Bat
Conservation status: Data Deficient
Past range and abundance
Unclear due to taxonomic confusion in this genus, especially from the east and coastal regions of Australia, and in New South Wales particularly (Allison 1989, 1996). Historically, specimens variously have been thought to either all belong to M. norfolkensis e.g. Iredale and Troughton (1934), to be part of the M. planiceps species complex (see Parnaby 1992, 1995 and Gilmore and Parnaby 1994), or to be part of M. loriae (see Allison 1989). The name norfolkensis is considered a misnomer, as the species is not known from Norfolk Island. It was most likely originally collected from the central coast of New South Wales in the vicinity of Sydney (Allison 1983, 1989). Therefore, the former distribution is likely to have been coastal mainland Australia only, restricted to central and north-east New South Wales, probably extending into south-east Queensland.
Present range and abundance
At present, Parnaby (1992) considers that M. norfolkensis can be distinguished readily from M. planiceps (both forms) and his Mormopterus sp.1. Parnaby does not recognise M. loriae as being sympatric with M. norfolkensis (Parnaby 1995), as now both sub-species of M. loriae are recognised to have restricted distributions over several regions in north and north-west Australia (McKenzie 1995). The sub-species M. l. ridei was originally considered sympatric with M. norfolkensis (Allison 1983) but now this range is occupied by the coastal species Mormopterus sp. 1 of Parnaby (1992). On this basis, M. norfolkensis is thought to be ‘uncommon’ and distributed east of the Great Dividing range to the coastline, and ranging in latitude from Picton (New South Wales) in the south, as far north as south-east Queensland. Most recent records come from north-eastern New South Wales (Parnaby 1992, Gilmore and Parnaby 1994).
Poorly known. Habitat can be inferred from the few collecting localities, represented by about 12 confirmed records in New South Wales (Parnaby 1995). Such habitats include dry eucalypt forest and coastal woodlands but individuals have been captured in riparian zones in rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest (Allison and Hoye 1995). Forages above the forest canopy or at forest edges (Allison 1983). Known to roost in tree hollows but occasionally found in buildings (Gilmore and Parnaby 1994, Allison and Hoye 1995).
None confirmed but it is likely that habitat modification, such as clearing for development and logging, could pose a serious threat. This is because the known distribution is limited to coastal New South Wales, and south-east Queensland where population growth is concentrated.
- Taxonomic clarification through the re-examination of museum material and additional collection of specimens for genetic and morphological identification.
- Improve field criteria for positive identification of this species based on external morphology.
- Undertake targetted surveys to clarify distribution and conservation status.
- Carry out ecological research to determine:
- habitat requirements;
- roost and maternity site selection;
- foraging strategy;
- population dynamics; and
- threatening processes.
- Review status based on knowledge gained through the above actions.
Allison, F.R. 1983. Eastern Little Mastiff-bat Mormopterus norfolkensis. p. 325 in R. Strahan (Ed.) The Australian Museum Complete Book of Australian Mammals. Angus & Robertson, Sydney.
Allison F.R. 1989. Chapter 43. Molossidae. In D.W.Walton and B.J. Richardson (Eds). Fauna of Australia Volume 1B Mammalia. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
Allison F.R. 1996. Fitting and fixing names to bats of the Genus Mormopterus of Australia. 7th Australasian Bat Conference Abstracts. Australasian Bat Society, Naracoorte.
Allison F.R. and Hoye G.A. 1995. Eastern Freetail-bat Mormopterus norfolkensis. p. 484 in R. Strahan (Ed.) The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Chatswood, NSW.
Gilmore A. and Parnaby H. 1994. Vertebrate fauna of conservation concern in north-east NSW forests. North East Forests Biodiversity Study Report No.3e. Report to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (unpublished).
Iredale T. and Troughton E. le G. 1934. A checklist of the mammals recorded from Australia. Memoirs of the Australian Museum 6, 1–122.
McKenzie N.L. 1995. Little Northern Freetail-bat Mormopterus loriae. pp. 482-483 in R. Strahan (Ed.) The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Chatswood, NSW.
Parnaby H. 1992. An interim guide to identification of insectivorous bats of south-eastern Australia. Technical Reports of the Australian Museum No. 8. Australian Museum, Sydney.
Parnaby H. 1995. Identification criteria and taxonomic clarification of some problematic bat species in north-eastern New South Wales. Appendix A. In NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Vertebrates of Upper North East New South Wales. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville.
Authors for the species