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

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: jennifer.parsons@jcu.edu.au

Australian Journal of Zoology 54(6) 417-428 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/ZO06092
Submitted: 3 November 2006  Accepted: 10 November 2006   Published: 9 January 2007

Abstract

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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