In the reproductive biology of organisms, a continuum exists from “highly reproductive species” at one end to “survivor species” at the other end. Among other factors, the position of a species along this continuum affects its sensitivity to human exploitation and its vulnerability to extinction. Flying foxes are long-lived, seasonal breeders, with a rigid, well-defined breeding season that is largely or wholly genetically determined. Unlike opportunistic, highly reproductive species, such as rabbits or mice, female flying foxes are unable to produce viable young before their second or third year of life, and are then capable of producing just one young per year. Such a breeding strategy will be successful only if flying-foxes are long-lived and suffer naturally low mortality rates. In this paper,we assess the vulnerability of flying foxes to extinction, using basic parameters of reproduction observed in the wild, and in captive breeding colonies of P. poliocephalus, P. alecto and P. scapulatus, and survival rates that are likely to apply to Australian conditions. Our models show explicitly that flying-fox populations have a very low capacity for increase, even under the most ideal conditions.The implications of our models are discussed in reference to the long-term management and conservation needs of Australian flying foxes. We conclude that current death-rates of flying-foxes in NSW and Queensland fruit orchards are putting state populations at serious risk.
On the intrinsic capacity for increase of Australian flying-foxes (Pteropus spp., Megachiroptera)
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A. P. McIlwee, L. Martin; On the intrinsic capacity for increase of Australian flying-foxes (Pteropus spp., Megachiroptera). Australian Zoologist 1 April 2002; 32 (1): 76–100. doi: https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2002.008
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