To examine the effects of temperature extremes on behaviour and demography of vulnerable wild flying-foxes (Pteropus spp.)
Type of Study:
A 2002 extreme heat even killed 3,500 individuals across nine mixed-species colonies. Druing this event a predictable sequence of thermoregulatory behaviours (wing-fanning, shade-seeking,panting and saliva-spreading, respectively) was witnessed and 5–6% of bats died from hyperthermia. Mortality was greater among the tropical black flying-fox, Pteropus alecto (10–13%) than the temperate grey-headed flying-fox, Pteropus poliocephalus (less than 1%), and young and adult females were more affected than adult males. Since 1994, over 30 000 flying-foxes (including at least 24 500 P. poliocephalus) were killed during 19 similar events. Although P. alecto was relatively less affected, it is currently expanding its range into the more variable temperature envelope of P. poliocephalus, which increases the likelihood of die-offs occurring in this species.
Extreme heat events
Temperature extremes are important additional threats to Australian flying-foxes and the ecosystem services they provide, and we recommend close monitoring of colonies where temperatures exceeding 42°C are predicted.
Chi-square tests, logistic regression
Eastern New South Wales
Response variable :
Proportion of colony affected by hyperthermia
30 camps, 3500 recorded deaths
Swampland, urban vegetation, forests
Welbergen, J. A., Klose, S. M., Markus, N., Eby, P. (2008) Climate change and the effects of temperature extremes on Australian flying-foxes. Proc. Biol. Sci. 275, 419–25.