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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 35(5)

Demographic indications of decline in the spectacled flying fox (Pteropus conspicillatus) on the Atherton Tablelands of northern Queensland

Samantha Fox A B E F, Jon Luly B, Catlin Mitchell B, Jenny Maclean C, David A. Westcott D

A School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.
B School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.
C Tolga Bat Rescue and Research, PO Box 685, Atherton, Qld 4883, Australia.
D CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Atherton, Qld 4883, Australia.
E Present address: PO Box 123, Tabulam, NSW 2469, Australia.
F Corresponding author. Email: samantha.fox@jcu.edu.au
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A lack of information about the spectacled flying fox (Pteropus conspicillatus) makes management and conservation of this vulnerable species difficult. The analysis of population dynamics using life-history traits and life tables is widely used in planning for the conservation and management of wildlife. In the present study, the first life table for any species of bat is provided and age estimates derived from counts of annual increments in tooth cementum rings are used to assess population trends and life-history traits in the spectacled flying fox on the Atherton Tablelands in north Queensland. As a result of high mortality, longevity was much shorter than expected from a theoretical basis. Life-table analyses suggest that the population experienced a 16% decrease during the 2 years of study. Absence of extended longevity to compensate for low reproductive output and delayed sexual maturity in ‘slow end’ mammal species such as P. conspicillatus reduces the window of opportunity for females to reproduce and adapt to changes in mortality rates. This study suggests that spectacled flying fox populations are sensitive to increased mortality and that reducing mortality rates should be the primary goal in conservation planning for P. conspicillatus.

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