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Conventional wisdom on roosting behaviour of Australian flying foxes - a critical review, and evaluation using new data
  • +4
  • Tamika Lunn,
  • Peggy Eby,
  • Remy Brooks,
  • Hamish McCallum,
  • Raina Plowright,
  • Maureen Kessler,
  • Alison Peel
Tamika Lunn
Griffith University
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Peggy Eby
University of New South Wales
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Remy Brooks
Griffith University
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Hamish McCallum
Griffith University
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Raina Plowright
Montana State University
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Maureen Kessler
Montana State University System
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Alison Peel
Griffith University
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Abstract

1. Fruit bats (Family: Pteropodidae) are animals of great ecological and economic importance, yet their populations are threatened by ongoing habitat loss and human persecution. A lack of ecological knowledge for the vast majority of Pteropodid bat species presents additional challenges for their conservation and management. 2. In Australia, populations of flying-fox species (Genus: Pteropus) are declining and management approaches are highly contentious. Australian flying-fox roosts are exposed to management regimes involving habitat modification, either through human-wildlife conflict management policies, or vegetation restoration programs. Details on the fine-scale roosting ecology of flying-foxes are not sufficiently known to provide evidence-based guidance for these regimes and the impact on flying-foxes of these habitat modifications is poorly understood. 3. We seek to identify and test commonly held understandings about the roosting ecology of Australian flying-foxes to inform practical recommendations and guide and refine management practices at flying-fox roosts. 4. We identify 31 statements relevant to understanding of flying-fox roosting structure, and synthesise these in the context of existing literature. We then contribute contemporary data on the fine-scale roosting structure of flying-fox species in south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales, presenting a 13-month dataset from 2,522 spatially referenced roost trees across eight sites. 5. We show evidence of sympatry and indirect competition between species, including spatial segregation of black and grey-headed flying-foxes within roosts and seasonal displacement of both species by little red flying-foxes. We demonstrate roost-specific annual trends in occupancy and abundance and provide updated demographic information including the spatial and temporal distributions of males and females within roosts. 6. Insights from our systematic and quantitative study will be important to guide evidence-based recommendations on restoration and management and will be crucial for the implementation of priority recovery actions for the preservation of these species into the future.

Peer review status:UNDER REVIEW

17 Mar 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
17 Mar 2021Assigned to Editor
17 Mar 2021Submission Checks Completed
19 Mar 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned