Foraging species

Flying-foxes are large bats that feed on nectar, pollen and fruit at night, and roost by day in colonies in the thousands. They are amongst the most mobile mammals on earth and can track changes in their food resources across much of Australia's north and east, where they are pivotal for pollination and seed dispersal in forests.

In order to better predict their movements, we first need know what they're feeding on, where and when.

While past studies have given us a good idea of the plant species that flying-foxes are most commonly attracted by, they have been hampered because of the extremely large areas that these species cover as well as the dynamic nature of flowering and fruiting patterns that constantly change through time and space.

This where you as citizen scientists step in: we hope that by having as many eyes as possible in the trees (and shrubs) we can start to build a clear picture of where flying-foxes are throughout the year, and what they're eating.

Below is a list of known foraging species for flying-foxes, with links to the Atlas of Living Australia taxonon profile pages. You can use these links as an aid to recognising the plant species you may be observing foraging behaviour on.

Fruit Foraging Species

Figs (Ficus)

Lilly pillies and native cherries (Syzygium)

Quandongs (Elaeocarpus)

Palm trees

Cultivated fruits

Other fruiting species

Blossom and Foliage Foraging Species

Eucalypts (Eucalyptus, Corymbia, Angophora)

Paperbarks (Melaleuca)

Silky oaks (Grevillea)

Banksias (Banksia)

Bottle-brushes (Callistemon)

Other species

This project is coordinated by Dr Pia Lentini, a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Quantitative and Applied Ecology Group at the University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on conservation issues in highly modified human-dominated landscapes, in the fields of agro- or urban ecology.

Image: Red gum flowers. Credit: John via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

How you can help

  1. Download the CAUL Urban Wildlife app. Available on Google Play or Apple Store
  2. Complete a quick online training session.
  3. Start recording flying foxes in your area. You can record individual sightings, or undertake a two part timed search - 5 minutes of listening followed by 15 minutes of looking. The timed searches will give us important information on both the presence and absence of our target frog species.

Species profiles