National recovery plan for the Christmas Island Pipistrelle Pipistrellus murrayi
Prepared by Martin Schulz and Linda F. Lumsden
Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2004
ISBN 0 642 55012 3
Part A: Species information and general requirements
- Conservation Status
- Objects of the Act
- Affected Interests
- Role and Interests of Indigenous People
- Benefits to Other Species
- Social and Economic Impacts
Christmas Island Pipistrelle Pipistrellus murrayi. This species has sometimes also been called Murray's Pipistrelle or Murray's Pipistrelle Bat.
Currently this species is listed as Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
There are no estimates of the population size of the Christmas Island Pipistrelle, however recent data indicates a marked decline, and the plan therefore recommends re-evaluating the conservation status since the species potentially meets criteria for Critically Endangered.
There are differing opinions regarding the taxonomic status of the Christmas Island Pipistrelle and taxonomic clarification is required. The most accepted view is that this species represents an endemic taxon on Christmas Island, hence its listing under the EPBC Act. Andrews (1900) separated P. murrayi from related species using the following characteristics: "This species is considerably smaller than P. abramus and the Common Pipistrelle (P. pipistrellus). It is larger and much darker in colour than P. pachypus, and in point of size comes very near to P. tenuis, which, however, is distinguished from it by its much blacker tint and the complete absence of the rufous tinge which is noticeable to a greater or lesser extent in all the specimens of the present species. In P. tenuis also the outer incisor is stouter than the outer cusp of the inner. P. indicus is brighter-coloured and somewhat larger". In a revision of Australo-Papuan Pipistrellus Kitchener et al. (1986) considered P. murrayi a distinct species. A systematic review of the Vespertilioninae based on baculum by Hill & Harrison (1987) listed P. murrayi as a separate taxon.
Koopman (1973, 1993), however, listed P. murrayi as conspecific with P. tenuis based on a lack of distinction from other island forms of Pipistrellus in the Indo-Australian area, although no data were provided. Pipistrellus tenuis is a widespread species within southern and southeast Asia, with Java representing the nearest locality to Christmas Island (Corbet & Hill 1992). Some recent literature, such as the global Microchiropteran Bat Action Plan (Hutson et al. 2001), has followed this taxonomical approach.
The Australian Bat Action Plan (Duncan et al. 1999) followed the taxonomy of Kitchener et al. (1986) rather than that of Koopman (1993) and listed P. murrayi as a species endemic to Christmas Island.
Objects of the EPBC Act have been taken into consideration in the development of the Christmas Island Pipistrelle Recovery Plan, particularly:
- to provide for the protection of the environment, especially those aspects of the environment that are matters of national environmental significance;
- to promote ecologically sustainable development through the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of natural resources;
- to promote the conservation of biodiversity; and
- to promote a co-operative approach to the protection and management of the environment involving governments, the community, landholders and indigenous peoples.
Objects e) to g) are not applicable due to the absence of indigenous people and the species not being listed under international fauna agreements.
Public authorities, private companies and other organisations with affected interests include:
Australian Government, including:
- Department of the Environment and Heritage (including Parks Australia North; Land, Water and Coasts Division; Christmas Island Rainforest Rehabilitation Program; Approvals and Legislation Division),
- Department of Transport and Regional Services,
- Department of Finance and Administration,
Shire of Christmas Island,
Indian Ocean Territories,
CI Phosphates Pty Ltd (Phosphate Resources Ltd),
Asia Pacific Space Centre,
Telstra Corporation Ltd,
Union of Christmas Island Workers,
Christmas Island Tourist Association,
Island Care Inc., and
Crazy Ant Steering Committee.
Not applicable. People first settled Christmas Island in 1888. Prior to this time there were no indigenous peoples, as defined by the EPBC Act, inhabiting the island (Commonwealth of Australia 2002).
Threatening processes identified and management actions proposed for the Christmas Island Pipistrelle are similar to those for other threatened endemic species/subspecies of terrestrial vertebrates that are restricted to rainforest vegetation communities on the island (e.g. Cogger & Sadlier 1999, Duncan et al. 1999, Garnett & Crowley 2000, Davis et al. 2002, Hill 2002 a, and b, Schulz 2002). Management actions affording protection to plateau and terrace rainforest, considered to be the habitat critical to the survival of the Christmas Island Pipistrelle, will also provide protection for other rainforest-dependent species/subspecies listed under the EPBC Act, the 'The Action Plan for Australian Birds' (Garnett & Crowley 2000) and 'The Action Plan for Australian Bats' (Duncan et al. 1999) (Table 1 ). Any control of introduced predators undertaken as part of this plan may also benefit other species, e.g. threatened reptiles.
|Christmas Island Shrew Crocidura attenuata trichura||E1|
|Christmas Island Flying-fox Pteropus melanotus natalis*||DD3,*|
|Christmas Island Pipistrelle Pipistrellus murrayi||E1, E3|
|Abbott's Booby Papasula abbotti||E1, CE2|
|White-tailed Tropicbird (Christmas Island subspecies) Phaethon lepturus fulvus||CE2|
|Christmas Island Frigatebird Fregata andrewsi||V1|
|Christmas Island Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus natalis||E1, CE2|
|Christmas Island Imperial-Pigeon Ducula whartoni||CE2|
|Christmas Island Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica natalis||CE2|
|Christmas Island Hawk-Owl Ninox natalis||V1, CE2|
|Christmas Island Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta natalis||CE2|
|Christmas Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus erythropleurus||CE2|
|Christmas Island White-eye Zosterops natalis||CE2|
|Pink Blind Snake Ramphotyphlops exocoeti||V1|
|Christmas Island Gecko Lepidodactylus listeri||V 1|
|CE = Critically Endangered; E = Endangered; V = Vulnerable; DD = Data deficient; 1 = Listed under the EPBC Act (as at August 2003); 2 = Listed in the 'Action Plan for Australian Birds' (Garnett & Crowley 2000); 3 = Listed in the 'Action Plan for Australian Bats' (Duncan et al. 1999); and * = Anecdotal evidence suggests this species has declined in recent years.|
The ecological research and population monitoring for the Christmas Island Pipistrelle, outlined as some of the primary actions in this Recovery Plan, may provide valuable incidental information on the current distribution, status and roost locations of the poorly known Christmas Island Flying-fox Pteropus melanotus natalis (listed as Data Deficient in Duncan et al. 1999). Nocturnal surveys and ecological research of the Christmas Island Pipistrelle throughout the island and particularly in inaccessible regions may provide valuable information on other threatened nocturnal species such as the Christmas Island Hawk-Owl Ninox natalis, the little known Christmas Island Gecko Lepidodactylus listeri, and enigmatic rainforest species such as the Christmas Island Shrew Crocidura attenuata trichura and the Christmas Island Blind Snake Ramphotyphlops exocoeti.
The Christmas Island Pipistrelle was formerly distributed throughout the island, including around the Settlement (Tidemann 1985). However, recent surveys (e.g. Lumsden & Cherry 1997, Lumsden et al. 1999) have indicated that the species predominantly occurs in primary plateau and terrace rainforest, adjacent areas of secondary rainforest regrowth and rehabilitation areas. No bats were recorded within the vicinity of the Settlement. Any proposed development or land management actions impacting upon primary and secondary rainforest (plateau and terrace) and adjacent habitats need to take this species into consideration. As with other threatened endemic rainforest fauna, the social and economic impacts resulting from management actions required to ameliorate impact on the Christmas Island Pipistrelle from future developments and the reinforcement of existing controls on primary rainforest clearance, may provide restrictions and additional costs to development proposals on the island.
The fauna on Christmas Island is unique and has the potential for attracting low impact ecotourism. A viewing and ultrasonic listening stopover point on one of the main roads in an area of high bat activity could be incorporated into tours highlighting the endemic wildlife of the island. The creation of endemic fauna and flora ecotourism may provide additional employment to the islanders, particularly if such tourism were strategically advertised within Australia and overseas. Rainforest rehabilitation, which provides employment for some islanders creates foraging habitat and in the years to come may provide roosting habitat for this species.