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Nursing females are more prone to heat stress: Demography matters when managing flying-foxes for climate change

By Stephanie Snoyman, Jasmina Muhic, Culum Brown

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Abstract

Determining the underlying mechanisms responsible for species-specific responses to climate change is important from a species management perspective. The grey-headed flying-fox, Pteropus poliocephalus, is listed as vulnerable but it also a significant pest species for orchardists and thereby presents an interesting management conundrum. Over the last century, the abundance of the grey-headed flying-fox, P. poliocephalus, in Australia has decreased due to a variety of threatening processes but has increased in abundance in urban areas. These flying-foxes are highly susceptible to extreme heat events which are predicted to increase in the future under climate change scenarios. Exceptionally hot days result in many deaths, the majority of whom are females with dependent young. This study examined the behavioural responses of roosting P. poliocephalus to temperature during the summer in their daytime roosts. Bats spent about 30% of their time resting at low temperatures, however, as temperature increased, fanning displaced resting as the predominant behaviour as bats attempted to cool themselves. Females with nursing young fanned significantly more often (P=0.001) and at a higher rate with rising temperature (P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 142
Issue 1
Pages 90-97
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2012.09.003
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Tags
  1. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  2. Climate
  3. Management
  4. temperatures