A taxonomic review of Australian Greater Long-eared Bats previously known as Nyctophilus timoriensis (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) and some associated taxa
A comparative morphological and morphometric assessment was undertaken of material from mainland Australia, Tasmania and Papua New Guinea that has previously been referred to as the Greater Long-eared Bat Nyctophilus timoriensis (Geoffroy, 1806). Five taxa are recognised: N. major Gray, 1844 from south-western Western Australia; N. major tor subsp. nov. from southern Western Australia east to the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia; N. corbeni sp. nov. from eastern mainland Australia from eastern South Australia, through Victoria to Queensland; N. sherrini Thomas, 1915 from Tasmania, and N. shirleyae sp. nov. from Mt Missim, Papua New Guinea. Vespertilio timoriensis Geoffroy is regarded as nomen dubium due to uncertainty surrounding provenance of the original specimen(s), the lack of a definite type specimen, and lack of sufficient detail in the original description and illustration to relate the name to a singular, currently recognised species. This review required a consideration of two taxa not usually associated with timoriensis: bifax Thomas, 1915 from eastern Australia and New Guinea, and daedalus Thomas, 1915, previously treated as the western subspecies of bifax, occurring from western Queensland, the northern part of the Northern Territory, and northern Western Australia. Nyctophilus daedalus is shown to belong to a separate species group. The implications of removing daedalus from bifax are discussed in relation to N. arnhemensis Johnson, 1959, which is considered to be a sibling species of N. bifax. The inter-specific relationships of these taxa are evaluated. A major species group is recognised, consisting of major Gray, 1844 and N. corbeni sp. nov., while sherrini Thomas, 1915 is placed in a gouldi group. The relationships of N. shirleyae from Papua New Guinea remain unclear but it is provisionally placed in a bifax group. The relationships of N. daedalus, which is likely to be a composite species, remain unclear and it is provisionally placed in the major group. Nyctophilus howensis from Lord Howe Island differs from all other members of the genus and its generic status needs re-examination.