Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

Dietary variation in spectacled flying foxes (Pteropus conspicillatus) of the Australian Wet Tropics

Jennifer G. Parsons A C , Andi Cairns A , Christopher N. Johnson A , Simon K. A. Robson A , Louise A. Shilton B and David A. Westcott B

A School of Marine andTropical Biology, James Cook University, Qld 4811, Australia.

B Tropical Forest Research Centre, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, PO Box 780, Atherton, Qld 4883, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Zoology 54(6) 417-428
Submitted: 3 November 2006  Accepted: 10 November 2006   Published: 9 January 2007


The diet of Pteropus conspicillatus, a large flying fox, was examined by collecting faeces in traps beneath daytime roost trees in four geographically distinct camps in the Wet Tropics bioregion of North-eastern Queensland, Australia. Faecal analyses revealed that P. conspicillatus utilise a broad variety of plant resources from a variety of habitats. Seed and pulp from figs (Ficus spp., Moraceae) and pollen from the family Myrtaceae were most frequently represented in the faeces from a range of both wet sclerophyll and rainforest habitats. The dietary composition of P. conspicillatus at individual camps could not be predicted by the habitats located within a typical foraging distance of each camp (20 km), and although consistent dietary changes were seen across all camps over time, each camp had a unique dietary signature indicative of feeding on a distinct subset of available vegetation. The unique diet of each camp and the variety of dietary items consumed suggest that camps may need to be managed on an individual camp-specific basis, and that P. conspicillatus are utilising a broader range of resources than would be expected if the species was a strict ‘rainforest-fruit specialist’.


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