Potential use of chemical cues for colony-mate recognition in the big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus

J Chem Ecol. 2002 Apr;28(4):819-34. doi: 10.1023/a:1015296928423.


Bats should benefit from recognition of their roost-mates when colonies form stable social units that persist over time. We used Y-maze experiments and gas chromatography-olfactometry (GC-O) to evaluate whether female big brown bats Eptesicus fuscus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) use chemical cues to distinguish among conspecifics. In dual-choice Y-maze experiments, females chose the scent of another female from their own roost over a conspecific female from a different roost in a majority of trials. Analysis of total body odors using GC-O suggests that individuals from a given colony may share a more common odor signature with roost-mates than with non-roost-mate conspecifics. Using four principle components derived from 15 odor variables, discriminant function analysis correctly assigned most individuals to the correct colony.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Communication*
  • Animals
  • Chiroptera / physiology*
  • Chromatography, Gas / methods
  • Cues*
  • Female
  • Male
  • North America
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Smell / drug effects