Canaries in the coalmine: flying-foxes and extreme heat events in a warming climate
3 July 2014
(Image courtesy of J.Welbergen)
Abstract - Changes in the regimes of extreme weather and climate events are the way in which people, animals and plants directly experience climate change; however, surprisingly little is known about how these events affect biodiversity. This seminar will explore the impacts of extreme heat events on Australian flying-foxes (fruitbats). Temperatures exceeding 42oC cause mass mortality among flying-foxes at landscape scales, and profoundly affect the behaviour and ecology of the species. Dr Welbergen will illustrate the impacts using his data from the three most recent extreme summer heat events, during which tens of thousands of flying-foxes died. Such events are expected to continue to escalate under climate change, with disturbing implications for flying-foxes and other organisms in Australia and beyond.
Presenter - Dr Justin Welbergen is a Senior Lecturer in Animal Ecology at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (University of Western Sydney). During his PhD (University of Cambridge) he was happily studying the behaviour of flying-foxes in eastern Australia when he happened to be confronted with one of the most dramatic animal die-offs ever observed. This serendipitous event prompted Justin to alter his research focus so he could explore the impacts of extreme weather and climate events on biodiversity.
* PowerPoint presentation, Dr Justin Welbergen - (PDF 13,439 KB)
* PowerPoint presentation, Prof Carla Catterall - (PDF 574 KB)
Publications, Dr Justin Welbergen:
- Welbergen JA, (2012) 'Impacts of extreme events on biodiversity – lessons from die-offs in flying-foxes', Proceedings of the International Symposium on the importance of Bats as Bioindicators, Granollers, Barcelona. ISBN: 978-84-87790-69-0.
- Welbergen, J. A. (2011). 'Fit females and fat polygynous males: Seasonal body mass changes in the grey-headed flying fox'. Oecologia 165 (3): 629–637. doi:10.1007/s00442-010-1856-1. PMID 21153744
- J. A. Welbergen (2010) 'Growth, bimaturation, and sexual size dimorphism in wild gray-headed flying foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus)'. Journal of Mammalogy 91 (1), 38-47.
- Klose, SM, Welbergen, JA and Kalko, EKV (2009) 'Testosterone is associated with harem maintenance ability in free-ranging grey-headed flying-foxes, Pteropus poliocephalus'. Biology Letters, 5 6: 758-761.
- Klose, S., Welbergen, J., Goldizen, A. and Kalko, E. (2009), 'Spatio-temporal vigilance architecture of an Australian flying-fox colony', Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, vol 63 , pp 371 - 380.
- Welbergen JA, Klose SM, Markus N, Eby P, (2008) 'Climate change and the effects of temperature extremes on Australian flying-foxes', Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, vol.275, pp 419-425
- Welbergen, J. (2008). 'Variation in twilight predicts the duration of the evening emergence of fruit bats from a mixed-species roost'. Animal Behaviour 75 (4): 1543–1550. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.10.007
- Welbergen, J. A. (2006). 'Timing of the evening emergence from day roosts of the grey-headed flying fox, Pteropus poliocephalus: the effects of predation risk, foraging needs, and social context'. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 60 (3): 311–322. doi:10.1007/s00265-006-0167-3