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Ecology of Christmas Island Flying Fox

Start date:
01 Jan 2015
End date:
31 Dec 2019
Christopher Todd (PhD candidate) Dr Justin Welbergen Dr David Westcott Dr Karrie Rose Dr John Martin 
Project sponsors:
Taronga Conservation Society Australia, Western Sydney University, CSIRO
Project partners:
Western Sydney University, CSIRO, Australian Registry for Wildlife Health (Taronga)

Project aims

  • Accurately assess the size of the Christmas Island flying-fox.

  • Assess seasonal and annual variability movements and habitat use of the population.

  • Assess foraging behaviour and preferences.

  • Assess the demography, survival and reproductive behaviour of the population.

  • Assess the threats to the population. 

Project summary

The Christmas Island flying-fox is the last remaining indigenous mammal on Christmas Island, a remote, beautiful, and ecologically unique part of Australia. Christmas Island’s biodiversity is under threat, evidenced by the extinction of two native rat species, the Christmas Island shrew (Crocidura trichura), and the Christmas Island pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus murrayi) and significant population declines in most endemic birds and reptiles. This project will assess the ecology and threats to this species, aiming to arrest its decline. 

Research update

The first field trip was conducted in August 2015 where >50 flying-foxes were caught and banded. Biological samples were also collected allowing the commencement of the health assessment of the population. The known colonies were assessed as was the impressive and challenging terrain.