Mystacina robusta Dwyer, 1962:3

New Zealand greater short-tailed bat, Greater short-tailed bat



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Mystacina tuberculata robusta Dwyer, 1962:3 (original combination)


Conservation Status


Last record: April 1965 (Daniel, 1990); 1967 (Fisher & Blomberg, 2012; Lee et al., 2017)

IUCN RedList status: Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)


O'Donnell et al. (2010:304) failed to find this species during a three day Spring 2009 visit to both Putauhina and Big South Cape Islands. But other evidence suggests that the species is either still extant or another mystacinid has colonized its former habitat (O'Donnell, 1999; O'Donnell et al. 2010:304). Subfossils from the extreme north of the North Island (i.e. near Puketiti) may require subspecific status (Flannery, 1995:312).



North Island, South Island, Big South Cape Island (and others), New Zealand






Three New Zealand institutions have specimens (fide Oldfield, 2020):

  • Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • Canterbury Museum
  • Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington (Te Papa)


Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington (Te Papa) (New Zealand)

NMNZ DM1629 (four bats; three M. robusta, one M. tuberculata)

NMNZ LM001270 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ LM001511 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ LM001512 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ LM001513 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ LM001891 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.34270 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.32399 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.32373 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.38824 (incl. NMNZ S.38824B) (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.34376 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.34160 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.34127 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.33918 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.34224(Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.32324 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.33699 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.30161 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.39187 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.35793 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.35495 (Oldfield, 2020)

NMNZ S.34237 (Oldfield, 2020)


Museum Zoologi Bogor (Indonesia)

MZB 2591 (subadult female) (Flannery, 1995:312)


British Museum (UK)

BM 9003 (spirit specimen) (Flannery, 1995:312)


Misidentified specimens

One specimen (NMNZ S.334376 Canterbury) previously attributed to M. robusta is now known to be M. tuberculata (Oldfield, 2020).



There are at least two known photos of living Greater short-tailed bats. The first was taken by Brian Bell in April 1961 on Big South Cape Island (published in Bell et al., 2016:215). The second photo was taken by Don Merton in July 1965, also on Big South Cape Island (Puwai Bay) (Holdaway, 2007).



Original scientific description:

Dwyer, P. D. (1962). Studies of two New Zealand bats. Zool. Publs. Vict. Univ. Wellington 28: 1-28.


Other references:

Atkinson, L. A. E. and Bell, B. D. (1973). Offshore and outlying islands, pp. 372-392. In: Williams, G. R. (ed.). The Natural History of New Zealand – An Ecological Survey. Wellington: Reed.

Bell, Elizabeth A. et al. (2016). The legacy of Big South Cape: rat irruption to rat eradication. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 40(2): 212-218. [contains photo of roosting individuals]

Bienvenue, Valérie and Chare, Nicholas. (2022). Animals, Plants and Afterimages: The Art and Science of Representing Extinction. Berghahn Books. 460 pp. [contains two photos]

Clark, Geoffrey R., Petchey, Peter, McGlone, Matthew S. and Bristow, Peter. (1996). Faunal and Floral Remains from Earnscleugh Cave, Central Otago, New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 26(3): 363-380. [Abstract]

Daniel, M. J. (1990). Order Chiroptera, pp. 114-137. In: King, Carolyn M. (ed.). The Handbook of New Zealand Mammals. Auckland: Oxford University Press.

Dwyer, P. D. (1970). Size variation in the New Zealand Short-tailed Bat. Trans. Roy. Soc. N. Z. (Biol. Sci.) 12: 239-243.

Fisher, Diana O. and Blomberg, Simon P. (2012). Inferring Extinction of Mammals from Sighting Records, Threats, and Biological Traits. Conservation Biology 26(1): 57-67.

Flannery, Timothy F. (1987). An historic record of the New Zealand Greater Short-tailed Bat, Mystacina robusta (Microchiroptera: Mystacinidae) from the South Island, New Zealand. Australian Mammalogy 10(1): 45-46.

Flannery, Timothy F. (1995). Mammals of the South-west Pacific and Moluccan Islands. Comstock/Cornell, Ithaca, NY, 464 pp. [p. 312-313]

Fuller, Errol. (2013). Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Hand SJ, Beck R, Worthy TH, Archer M, Sigé B. (2007). Australian and New Zealand fossil bats: the origin, evolution, and extinction of bat lineages in Australasia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27(Suppl): 86a.

Hand, S. J. et al. (2009). Bats that walk: a new evolutionary hypothesis for the terrestrial behaviour of New Zealand's endemic mystacinids. BMC Evolutionary Biology 9:169.

Hill, J. E. and Daniel, M. J. (1985). Systematics of the New Zealand short-tailed bat Mystacina Gray, 1843 (Chiroptera: Mystacinidae). [i]Bull. Br. Mus. Nat. Hist. (Zool.)[/i] [b]48[/b]: 279-300.

Holdaway, Richard. (2007). 'Extinctions - Smaller birds, reptiles, frogs, fish, plants', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 2 February 2022)

Lee, T. E., Fisher, D. O., Blomberg, S. P. and Wintle, B. A. (2017). Extinct or still out there? Disentangling influences on extinction and rediscovery helps to clarify the fate of species on the edge. Global Change Biology 23(2): 621-634.

Lloyd, B. D. (2001). Advances in New Zealand Mammalogy 1990-2000: Short-tailed Bats. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 31(1): 59-81.

Lloyd, B. D. (2005). Lesser short-tailed bat, pp. 111-126. In: King, Carolyn M. (ed.). The Handbook of New Zealand Mammals. 2nd ed. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Macdonald, D. W. (2009). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford. [relevant citation?]

Merton, Don. (2004). The legacy of Big South Cape: forty years on. Titi Times: Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. Department of Zoology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand 14: 12-14.

Molloy, J. (1995). Threatened Species recovery Plan: Bat (Peka Peka) Recovery Plan (Mystacina, Chalinolobus).Threatened Species Unit Department of Conservation.

O'Donnell, C. (1999). Search for pekapeka (bats) on Putauhina Island, southern Titi Islands, 6-9 November 1999. Department of Conservation, Christchurch, New Zealand.

O'Donnell, C. (2008). Mystacina robusta. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. ( Downloaded on 01 October 2011.

O’Donnell, C. F. J. (2010). The ecology and conservation of New Zealand bats, pp. 460-495. In: Fleming, T. H. and Racey, P. A. (eds.). Island bats. Evolution, Ecology and Conservation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

O'Donnell, C. F. J., Christie, J. E., Hitchmough, R. A., Lloyd, B. and Parsons, S. (2010). The conservation status of New Zealand bats, 2009. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 37(4): 297-311.

C. O’Donnell, J. Christie, B. Lloyd, S. Parsons and R. Hitchmough. (2013). Conservation status of New Zealand bats, 2012. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 6. 8 pp.

Oldfield, Isobel F. (2020). Historical genetic diversity of the greater short-tailed bat (Mystacina robusta). MSc thesis, Lincoln University, New Zealand.

Simmons, N.B. and A.L. Cirranello. 2023. Bat Species of the World: A taxonomic and geographic database. Version 1.3. Accessed on 06/18/2023.

Turvey, Samuel T. (2009). Holocene mammal extinctions, pp. 41-61. In: Turvey, Samuel T. (ed.). Holocene Extinctions. Oxford, UK & New York, USA: Oxford University Press. xii + 352 pp.

Worthy, Trevor H. (1993). Fossils of Honeycomb Hill. Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington. 56 pp.

Worthy, Trevor H. (1997). Quaternary fossil fauna of South Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 27: 67-162.

Worthy, Trevor H. (1998). Quaternary fossil faunas of Otago, South Island, New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 28(3): 421-521. [p. 469]

Worthy, Trevor H. (2001). A fossil vertebrate fauna accumulated by laughing owls (Sceloglaux albifacies) on the Gouland Downs, northwest Nelson, South Island. Notornis 48(4): 225-233.

Worthy, Trevor H., Daniel, M. J. and Hill, J. E. (1996). An analysis of skeletal size variation in Mystacina robusta Dwyer, 1962 (Chiroptera: Mystacinidae). New Zealand Journal of Zoology 23: 99-110.

Worthy, Trevor H. and Holdaway, Richard N. (1993). Quaternary fossil faunas from caves in the Punakaiki area, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 23(3): 147-254.

Worthy, T. H. and Holdaway, R. N. (1994). Quaternary fossil faunas from caves in Takaka Valley and on Takaka Hill, northwest Nelson, South Island, New Zealand. Journal of The Royal Society of New Zealand 24(3): 297-391. [Mystacina cf. robusta]

Worthy, Trevor H. and Holdaway, Richard N. (2000). Terrestrial fossil vertebrate faunas from inland Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand. Part 1. Records of the Canterbury Museum 14: 89-154.

Worthy, Trevor H., Miskelly, Colin M. and Ching, Bob A. (R.). (2002). Taxonomy of North and South Island snipe (Aves: Scolopacidae: Coenocorypha), with analysis of a remarkable collection of snipe bones from Greymouth, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 29(3): 231-244.

Worthy, Trevor H. and Zhao, J. X. (2006). A late Pleistocene predator-accumulated avifauna from Kids Cave, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand. Alcheringa Special Issue 1: 389-408.


<< Back to the Chiroptera (Bats) database