AUSTRALIA'S spectacled flying foxes (Pteropus conspicillatus) are important pollinators and seed dispersers of mature hardwoods in the tropical forests of Queensland. The colorful black bean tree (Castinospermum australie) shown here is a highly prized hardwood used for veneers. During the day, camps of these large bats are filled with noise as individuals jockey for the best position high in the treetops of the rain forest or swamps. Camp sizes vary from hundreds to tens of thousands. One young is born to each female between October and early December.
Over the last 200 years, more than half of Australia's northern forests have been cleared, leaving natural habitat for these magnificent animals greatly reduced and fragmented.
PHOTO BY MERLIN D. TUTTLE