Life expectancy, causes of death and movements of the grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) inferred from banding

Christopher Tidemann, J E Nelson

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This study was designed to generate information on demography and movements in large flying-foxes, information that is critical to management planning. Between 1989 and 2002, 2,244 wild grey-headed flying-foxes, Pteropus poliocephalus, were harp-trapped, banded and released at sites across south-eastern Australia; 918 hand-reared orphans were also banded and released at four sites. Retraps of wild animals were few (n=10) and are not discussed here. Recoveries (n = 86) from the public reporting dead wild flyingfoxes (total 4.27 ) and 38 hand-reared orphans (4.13 ) are discussed. Recovery data were analysed via standard multiple regression; there was no difference between the sexes of wild P poliocephalus in age at death or distance travelled, but hand-reared animals, on average, lived less than half as long as their wild counterparts (P <0.001) and did not travel as far (P <0.01). The average age of wild P poliocephaltts at death was 7.1 +/- 3.9 years ((x) over bar +/- SD, n = 86); the oldest flying-fox was 18 years of age. Generation length is estimated at 7.4 +/- 3.76 years. Major causes of death of 86 wild P poliocephalus were: hyperthermia (33.7 ); electrocution (18.6 ); entanglement in fruit-tree netting (5.8 ); entanglement in barbed wire (4.7 ); unknown (32.6 ). 77 of recoveries of wild-banded P poliocephalus were within 20 km of where they were banded; the longest movement recorded was 978 km. 1,632 wild black flying-foxes, P alecto were trapped and banded; 27 were retrapped; seven were recovered dead (0.42 ); from another 136 banded as hand-reared orphans, three were recovered (2.2 ). Of 583 wild little red flying-foxes, P scapulatus, trapped and banded, none were retrapped; one was recovered (0.2 ). Data from P alecto and P scapulatus were too few for statistical analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419 - 429
Number of pages11
JournalActa Chiropterologica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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