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Understanding of the distribution and ecology of some Western Australian bats has advanced considerably in the last ten years, while knowledge of others remains basic. The state has one species listed in the highest conservation level under state legislation (Rhinonicteris aurantia), and one population of this species is listed in a Threatened category under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Six other species are included on the Department of Environment and Conservation's Priority Fauna Listing based on their known distribution and representation on conservation and threatened lands (Falsistrellus mackenziei, Hipposideros stenotis, Macroderma gigas, Mormopterus loriae cobourgiana, Nyctophilus major tor and Vespadelus douglasorum). These listings reflect mainly a lack of knowledge and perceived threat. Recent unpublished research on R. aurantia and M. gigas has provided much relevant information for assessing development proposals, mainly in the Pilbara where plans for iron and gold mines coincide with their habitat. There are several unresolved taxonomic issues in the fauna, and when these are resolved, the tally for the state might increase by up to two species from a total of 37. The impact of logging, mining and other disturbances involving forest clearing in the south west is largely unknown, but the first studies have been completed recently. The status of cave occupancy of bats in south west caves was recently assessed, and only five caves have persistent bat colonies of significant size. A series of studies on aerodynamics, foraging strategy and call design has added a new dimension to the understanding of WA bats. Surveys for bats based on acoustic recordings of echolocation calls have increased considerably, and either one of two approaches based on AnaBat equipment are undertaken. Keys are mostly unavailable for identifying WA bats from their echolocation calls, but measurements of echolocation parameters from regional bat surveys and keys from other parts of Australia provide a good basis for making identifications in many cases.

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