Factors affecting the occupation of a colony site in Sydney, New South Wales by the Grey-headed Flying-fox Pteropus poliocephalus (Pteropodidae)


*Corresponding author: Present address: A08 School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. (Email: kpjones@bio.usyd.edu.au)


Previous authors have reported that Pteropus poliocephalus colony sites are occupied in response to blossom availability. However, in the present study it is reported that at the Gordon site in suburban Sydney, colony numbers were negatively correlated with the occurrence of pollen in the droppings. In addition, in contrast to reported occupational patterns at other colony sites, where flying-foxes are not present at the site during winter and early spring, the Gordon site was occupied by substantial numbers of flying-foxes throughout the entire period of 62 months from 1985 to 1990. As a result of the introduction of plants native to other parts of Australia and exotics from other continents, there is a variety of foods available throughout the year in the Sydney region, in comparison with less urbanized areas. This food supply permits the occupation of the Gordon colony site during winter and spring and reduces the migratory behaviour of flying-foxes throughout the year. It is concluded that in the absence of a restrictive food supply, the occupational pattern of the Gordon colony of P. poliocephalus is the result of the reproductive requirements of the species modified by the vagaries of blossom production in the native forests outside the foraging range of the colony.