Information transfer about roosts in female Bechstein's bats: an experimental field study

Proc Biol Sci. 2003 Mar 7;270(1514):511-5. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2002.2267.


Information transfer among group members is believed to play an important part in the evolution of coloniality in both birds and bats. Although information transfer has received much scientific interest, field studies using experiments to test the underlying hypotheses are rare. We used a field experiment to test if communally breeding female Bechstein's bats (Myotis bechsteinii) exchange information regarding novel roosts. We supplied a wild colony, comprising 17 adult females of known relatedness, with pairs of suitable and unsuitable roosts and monitored the arrival of individuals marked with transponders (PIT-tags) over 2 years. As expected with information transfer, significantly more naive females were recruited towards suitable than towards unsuitable roosts. We conclude that information transfer about roosts has two functions: (i) it generates communal knowledge of a large set of roosts; and (ii) it aids avoidance of colony fission during roost switching. Both functions seem important in Bechstein's bats, in which colonies depend on many day roosts and where colony members live together for many years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Communication*
  • Animal Migration
  • Animals
  • Chiroptera / physiology*
  • Female
  • Nesting Behavior*
  • Social Behavior
  • Time Factors