The Action Plan for Australian Bats
Recovery outline: Bare-rumped Sheathtail Bat
Scientific name: Saccolaimus saccolaimus nudicluniatus (De Vis 1905)
Common name: Bare-rumped Sheathtail Bat
Conservation status: Critically Endangered (A1a)
Not known. This species was first described as Taphozous nudicluniatus [De Vis 1905] in Australia (see also Troughton 1925) but later it was synonymised with T. (= Saccolaimus) saccolaimus (Goodwin 1979). Four sub-species have been recognised (Koopman 1994) but Goodwin (1979) considered that there was too much variation in the form of this species to warrant identifying sub-species. The sub-species S. saccolaimus nudicluniatus has been referred to the north-east Queensland population (Koopman 1994) but the status of the discrete Northern Territory population has not been considered (McKean et al. 1981, Thomson 1991). The Northern Territory form appears to be distinct, as it is somewhat larger, with very dark brown (almost black) fur dorsally (McKean et al. 1981). This compares with the Queensland form that tends to be more uniformly brown to dark brown, and regularly flecked with white (Troughton 1925, Compton and Johnson 1983, Hall 1995). Unfortunately, individuals were not examined by Chimimba and Kitchener (1991) in their taxonomic revision of the Australian Emballonuridae, and so it is premature to describe the Northern Territory form as a sub-species.
Not well known. Historically, most specimens have been collected from quite a restricted and narrow coastal region (less than 40 km inland) between Ayr and Cooktown in Queensland (Ingram and Raven 1991), with one isolated specimen collected north of Coen on Cape York. Type locality for Taphozous nudicluniatus (= S. saccolaimus) is Babinda Creek near Cardwell (De Vis 1905). A quite separate population of this species, which was not discovered until relatively recently (McKean et al. 1981), appears to exist in the northern coastal regions of the Northern Territory (Thomson 1991). Extralimitally, this species has an extremely widespread distribution from India throughout south-east Asia (excluding The Philippines) to the Solomon Islands (Koopman 1994). Distribution is likely to extend, patchily perhaps, the length of Cape York, and possibly include some of the Torres Strait islands, as specimens of S. nudicluniatus (= saccolaimus) have been collected from the coastal plains of south-west Papua adjacent to Torres Strait (Waithman 1979).
Essentially unknown, as very few records exist (Ingram and Raven 1991). There have been no records in the past 16 years (as reported by McKean et al. 1981, Compton and Johnson 1983). It is not clear whether this species still exists in its former range, or whether the range has changed. It is possible that echolocation calls of S. s. nudicluniatus are being confused with Tadarida australis, as there are no specimens of T. australis collected in tropical Queensland, but many records based on echolocation calls.
Open tropical woodland. Most specimens have been collected from coastal lowlands, at both eucalypt and rainforest dominated sites. Known to roost in tree hollows such as Eucalyptus platyphylla (= alba) as well as coastal caves. One confirmed maternity roosting site has been found in a E. platyphylla (Compton and Johnson 1983). This species may be critically dependent on suitable tree roosts in coastal, open eucalypt woodlands (Compton and Johnson 1983).
Reasons for decline
None can be confirmed, but the clearing of a significant proportion of coastal tropical woodland may pose a serious threat. Changes to the fire regime at the northern and southern limits along the east coast of north Queensland may also have caused decline.
Conservation reserves on which species occurs
Kakadu National Park, possibly Bowling Green Bay National Park. Edmund Kennedy National Park, Lakefield National Park, Rokeby National Park, Jardine River National Park, Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (likely).
Other public land on which species occurs
Not known. Possibly mining and pastoral leases in Northern Territory and Queensland
Other land on which species occurs
Private land south of Townsville (Compton and Johnson 1983).
Is knowledge about species adequate for objectives and actions to be defined accurately?
- Clarify the current distribution and abundance of the species. In particular, determine if this species is still extant in Australia.
- Increase understanding of the basic ecology of the species to determine:
- habitat requirements;
- roost and maternity site selection; and
- threatening processes.
- Protect any habitats and roost sites where the species is found to occur.
- Assess whether there is a taxonomic distinction between Northern Territory and Queensland populations, and determine relationships to extralimital populations.
Management and research actions completed or underway
Survey of c.1000 coastal caves in the Wet Tropics region (Clague, Coles and Whybird unpub.) has failed to locate this species, compared to the frequent presence of Taphozous australis, suggesting that it prefers woodland habitat for roosting and foraging.
Management and research actions required
- Intensive survey at known localities are required initially, followed by surveys to determine the distributional limits of the Northern Territory and Queensland populations.
- Carry out ecological research to meet recovery objectives ie. determine:
- habitat requirements;
- roost and maternity site selection;
- threatening processes; and
- whether populations of this species are viable.
- Clarify, if possible, the taxonomic status of populations in both the Northern Territory and Queensland by the use of existing (museum specimens) morphological material and molecular techniques.
Organisation(s) responsible for conservation of species
Environment Australia, Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Wet Tropics Management Authority.
Other organisation(s)/individuals involved
Local Shire/City councils.
Can recovery be carried out with existing resources?
No. The following is required :
- Survey $85,000
- Ecological research $100,000
- Taxonomic studies $ 10,000
(Survey costs based on 2 people for 6 months 50K plus expenses 18K, vehicle 12K and equipment 5K; research costs based on 1 person for 1 year 60K plus expenses 40K. To reduce costs this project could be combined with recovery actions for other species.)
Chimimba C.T. and Kitchener D.J. 1991. A systematic revision of Australian Emballonuridae (Mammalia: Chiroptera). Records of the West Australian Museum 15(1), 203–265.
Compton A. and Johnson P.M. 1983. Observations of the Sheath-tailed bat: Taphozous saccolaimus Temminck (Chiroptera: Emballonuridae), in the Townsville Region of Queensland. Australian Mammalogy 6, 83–87.
De Vis C.W. 1905. Bats. Annals of the Queensland Museum No.6, 36–40.
Goodwin R.E. 1979. The bats of Timor: systematics and ecology. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 163, 73–122.
Hall L.S. 1983. Naked-rumped Sheathtail-bat Taphozous saccolaimus. Pp. 312–313 in R. Strahan (Ed.) The Australian Museum Complete Book of Australian Mammals. Angus & Robertson, Sydney.
Hall L.S. 1995. Bare-Rumped Sheathtail-bat Saccolaimus saccolaimus. Pp. 469–470 in R. Strahan (Ed.) The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Chatswood, NSW.
Ingram G.J. and Raven R.J. 1991. An Atlas of Queensland’s Frogs, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals. Queensland Museum, Brisbane.
Koopman K.F. 1994. Chiroptera: systematics. In: Neithammer, Schiemann and Starck (Eds) Handbuch der Zoologie Vol. 8 (Part 60). de Gruyter & Co. Berlin
McKean J.L., Friend G. and Hertog A.L. 1981. Occurrence of the Sheath-tailed Bat Taphozous saccolaimus in the Northern Territory. Northern Territory Naturalist 4, 20.
Thomson B.G. 1991. A Field Guide to Bats of the Northern Territory. Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
Troughton E. Le G. 1925. A revision of the genera Taphozous and Saccolaimus (Chiroptera) in Australia and New Guinea, including a new species, and a note on two Malayan forms. Records of the Australian Museum 14, 313–341.
Waithman J. 1979. A report on the collection of mammals from southwest Papua, 1972–1973. Australian Zoologist 20, 313–326.
Authors for the species