Kinship, association, and social complexity in bats
Wilkinson, Gerald S.
Bohn, Kirsten M.
Chaverri Echandi, Gloriana
Ortega Reyes, Jorge
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Among mammals, bats exhibit extreme variation in sociality, with some species living largely solitary lives while others form colonies of more than a million individuals. Some tropical species form groups during the day that persist throughout the year while many temperate species only gather into groups during hibernation or parturition. How groups form and then persist has now been described for a number of species, but the degree to which kinship explains patterns of association has never been quantified across species. Here, we use social network analysis and genetic data to determine the extent to which relatedness contributes to associations among individuals estimated from free-ranging animals across nine species from four families of bats. Network analysis reveals that all species show evidence of emergent social structure. Variation in the strength of the relationship between genetic relatedness and social association appears to be related to the degree of roost switching, i.e., species in which individuals change roosts frequently tend to exhibit higher levels of association among relatives. Sex-biased dispersal determines whether associations were between male or female relatives. The strength of associations among kin does not predict known occurrence of complex behaviors, such as dominance or various types of cooperation, indicating that kinship is not a prerequisite for social complexity in bats.
External link to the item10.1007/s00265-018-2608-1
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