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Social interactions among wild female Bechstein's bats ( Myotis bechsteinii ) living in a maternity colony


Kerth, G; Almasi, B; Ribi, N; Thiel, D; Lüpold, S (2003). Social interactions among wild female Bechstein's bats ( Myotis bechsteinii ) living in a maternity colony. Acta Ethologica, 5(2):107-114.

Abstract

Although sociality is common in bats, few
studies have investigated individual social behaviour in free-ranging colonies. This study quantifies social interactions among wild female Bechstein’s bats (Myotis
bechsteinii) belonging to one maternity colony. Our main goal was to analyse allogrooming and nose rubbing, which are both regularly displayed by adult females. Based on data of individually marked bats with known degrees of pairwise relatedness, we suggest that allogrooming has both a social and a hygienic function. Females groomed colony mates mainly on parts of the body that are difficult to reach by a bat itself. Thus,
allogrooming may function to remove ectoparasites from inaccessible body parts. Allogrooming was rare compared to self-grooming (on average 0.7% vs 37.7% of a female’s total observation time), and there was no significant correlation between the rate at which a bat groomed itself and the frequency with which it was groomed by
conspecifics. Therefore, we assume that allogrooming also has a social purpose in addition to its assumed hygienic function. We suggest that allogrooming could strengthen social bonds among colony members that live
together for many years. Mothers and adult daughters groomed each other preferentially. Thus, allogrooming may reflect special mother–daughter bonds. Nose rubbing occurred mainly within minutes (median: 80 s) after the arrival of a female in a night roost, and there was no correlation with relatedness. Therefore, it probably allows recognition of colony mates and may also be a greeting
behaviour.

Although sociality is common in bats, few
studies have investigated individual social behaviour in free-ranging colonies. This study quantifies social interactions among wild female Bechstein’s bats (Myotis
bechsteinii) belonging to one maternity colony. Our main goal was to analyse allogrooming and nose rubbing, which are both regularly displayed by adult females. Based on data of individually marked bats with known degrees of pairwise relatedness, we suggest that allogrooming has both a social and a hygienic function. Females groomed colony mates mainly on parts of the body that are difficult to reach by a bat itself. Thus,
allogrooming may function to remove ectoparasites from inaccessible body parts. Allogrooming was rare compared to self-grooming (on average 0.7% vs 37.7% of a female’s total observation time), and there was no significant correlation between the rate at which a bat groomed itself and the frequency with which it was groomed by
conspecifics. Therefore, we assume that allogrooming also has a social purpose in addition to its assumed hygienic function. We suggest that allogrooming could strengthen social bonds among colony members that live
together for many years. Mothers and adult daughters groomed each other preferentially. Thus, allogrooming may reflect special mother–daughter bonds. Nose rubbing occurred mainly within minutes (median: 80 s) after the arrival of a female in a night roost, and there was no correlation with relatedness. Therefore, it probably allows recognition of colony mates and may also be a greeting
behaviour.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2003
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:15
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:14
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0873-9749
Publisher DOI:10.1007/s10211-003-0075-8

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