The Action Plan for Australian Bats
Taxon summary: Bare-backed Fruit Bat
Scientific name: Dobsonia moluccensis magna Thomas, 1904
Common name: Bare-backed Fruit Bat
Conservation status: Lower Risk (near threatened)
Past range and abundance
Not known. Most of north, north-central and east Cape York, possibly as far south as Chillagoe (see below). First collected in Australia at Coen (Allen 1935).
Present range and abundance
The distribution of this species possibly remained stable as there has not been any large scale habitat modification within its range. Survey records indicate that the species is common in Iron Range and Lockerbie Scrub (L. Leung unpub.). Confirmed distribution is from Silver Plains (McIlwraith Range), northwards to the tip of Cape York and includes Moa Is. in Torres Strait (Hall 1995). A southern record from Black Mountain is most likely anomalous (based on a cave in the Black Mountain National Park being known as ‘Flying Fox’, and based on a totem held in the vicinity). However there appears to be a reliable sight record from Chillagoe (Robson 1986). This species occurs extralimitally in Papua New Guinea where it is very widespread (Flannery 1995, Bonaccorso 1999).
Roosts in small numbers in vegetation and in larger numbers (up to thirty) in caves or boulder piles. Forages at night in open forest as well as rainforest and monsoon vine thickets and is noted to feed regularly on native figs. It is also known to feed in cultivated fruit gardens when the natural food supply is low (in the late wet season to early dry season).
No large scale decline has been observed, although shooting has caused small losses of numbers and the species has been regularly killed on barbed wire at King Ranch and Silver Plains. There has also been some loss of habitat through clearing. Inferred threats include changes to vegetation through historical changes to fire regime.
- Protection of known roosts and associated foraging habitats.
- Undertake targetted surveys for the species to clarify distribution and status. In particular, survey roost sites on Cape York Peninsula and the Torres Strait islands and determine the southern limit of distribution.
- Carry out ecological research to determine:
- habitat requirements;
- roost and maternity site selection;
- foraging strategy;
- population dynamics; and
- threatening processes.
Allen G.M. 1935. A fruit bat, Dobsonia, new to Australia. Australian Zoologist 8, 151.
Bonaccorso F. 1999. Bats of Papua New Guinea. Conservation International, Washington.
Flannery T.F. 1995. Mammals of New Guinea. Reed Books, Chatswood, NSW.
Hall L.S. 1995. Bare-backed Fruit-bat Dobsonia moluccensis. pp. 430–431 in R. Strahan (Ed.) The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Chatswood, NSW.
Quoy J.R.C. and Gaimard J.P. 1830. Voyage de Découvertes de l’Astrolabe éxécuté par ordre de Roi, pendant les années 1826–1827–1828–1829, sur la commandement de MJ Dumont d’Urville. Zoologie 1, Paris, Tastu.
Robson S. 1986. A new locality record for the Bare backed Fruit Bat Dobsonia moluccensis (Quoy & Gaimard 1830). Macroderma 2, 63–64.
Authors for the species