A call-and-response system facilitates group cohesion among disc-winged bats

Gloriana Chaverri, Erin H. Gillam, Thomas H. Kunz
2012 Behavioral Ecology  
Acoustic signals are important in maintaining group cohesion, particularly in highly mobile species. For these signals to facilitate group cohesion, individuals must be able to recognize, and respond to, calls emitted by group members. In this study, we document the use and recognition of complementary contact calls in Spix's disc-winged bat (Thyroptera tricolor), a species known to form very stable social groups despite using an extremely ephemeral roosting resource. This bat uses 2 sets of
more » ... t uses 2 sets of calls: "inquiry," which are emitted by flying bats that are seeking roosts or group mates, and "response," which are produced in reply to an inquiry call by individuals that have already located a roost. Here, we test if bats are capable of discriminating between the inquiry and response calls of group and nongroup mates using playback experiments. Results show that flying bats can discriminate between the inquiry and response calls emitted by group and nongroup members and can maintain contact preferentially with the former. Roosting bats, however, exhibited no preference for group over nongroup members and thus responded indiscriminately. We argue that differences in how individuals respond to calls from group and nongroup members may be partly attributed to the costs associated with flight and the potential benefits of recruiting roost mates.
doi:10.1093/beheco/ars188 fatcat:azjaxphwdrh4vldjsajof56pcm