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, 6 (6), e25783

Does Food Sharing in Vampire Bats Demonstrate Reciprocity?


Does Food Sharing in Vampire Bats Demonstrate Reciprocity?

Gerald Carter et al. Commun Integr Biol.


Claims of reciprocity (or reciprocal altruism) in animal societies often ignite controversy because authors disagree over definitions, naturalistic studies tend to demonstrate correlation not causation, and controlled experiments often involve artificial conditions. Food sharing among common vampire bats has been a classic textbook example of reciprocity, but this conclusion has been contested by alternative explanations. Here, we review factors that predict food sharing in vampire bats based on previously published and unpublished data, validate previous published results with more precise relatedness estimates, and describe current evidence for and against alternative explanations for its evolutionary stability. Although correlational evidence indicates a role for both direct and indirect fitness benefits, unequivocally demonstrating reciprocity in vampire bats still requires testing if and how bats respond to non-reciprocation.

Keywords: cooperation; food sharing; reciprocity; vampire bats.

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