Dealing with the noisy neighbors: flying-fox communication in urban areas

J. A. Clarke, T. Pearson

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Urban survivors is a term applied to wild species inhabiting urban areas and successfully coping with anthropogenic pollution, including urban noise. Grey-headed flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) are highly vocal mammals inhabiting urban and rural areas in NSW, Australia. Understanding the strategies used by this urban species to communicate in spite of anthropogenic noise may reveal why other species are unsuccessful. We investigated if, similar to songbirds, flying-foxes in urban areas would use vocalizations with acoustic structures that differ from flying-foxes inhabiting rural areas. We recorded flying-foxes in five urban and rural camps over 12wks. Analysis of soundscapes and individual vocalizations revealed no differences in dominant frequencies, syllable rates or amplitude. Only when anthropogenic noise exceeded 66dBA – from low aircraft overflights in urban camps – were the flying-foxes affected. In these cases, the animals ceased vocalizing until the aircraft noise had abated. SPL of the camps is 55-57dBA from the flying-foxes’ calls, in short, these are extremely loud animals. Thus, they are urban survivors partly because they are as noisy as their human neighbors.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventAnimal Behavior Society Annual Conference (50th : 2013) - Boulder, Colorado
Duration: 28 Jul 20131 Aug 2013


ConferenceAnimal Behavior Society Annual Conference (50th : 2013)
CityBoulder, Colorado


  • Communication
  • Urban areas


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