The crash course in Flying Foxes from Matthew Mo was both interesting and informative. Audience members learnt about the important ecological service through pollination and seed dispersal provided by this keystone species. They feed mainly at night travelling 10s of kilometres in search of flower-nectar and fleshy fruits of a wide variety of tree species. They roost in camps which are common around Sydney, including the one in Myles Dunphy Reserve (MDR), which consists of Grey-Headed Flying Fox (listed as vulnerable). Their main lifecycle progression is: birthing in spring, lactation in summer, conception in autumn to winter and gestation through winter, living up to 18 years. One notable feature is that flying foxes do not roost permanently in camps, but are transient, as they move up and down the coast as their food sources vary during the changing seasons. Flying Foxes are severely affected by extreme heat as observed in the local camp a few years ago and should not be disturbed; this is one reason why the track under their camp in MDR has been blocked
It has been two decades since the grey-headed flying-fox was listed as a threatened species under NSW legislation. The conservation and management of this species continues to be compounded by negative interactions between humans and flying-foxes, a range of anthropogenic threats affecting flying-foxes and situations involving mass mortalities of flying-foxes.
Matthew is a senior project officer at the NSW Department of Planning and Environment and coordinates the Saving our Species conservation project for the grey-headed flying-fox. He also coordinates the Flying-fox Consultative Committee. His work is published in a number of peer-reviewed scientific journals including Australian Zoologist, Pacific Conservation Biology and Human Dimensions of Wildlife.