Information transfer about food as a reason for sociality in bats

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  1. Information transfer about food is a potential reason for sociality in many animals. If an animal is better informed, it should then be better able to adjust its behaviour and reduce the uncertainty of finding food in a variable world.

    2. Given the remarkable range of social systems and ecological niches of bats throughout the world, bats are well‐suited as a model to review mechanisms and fitness consequences of information transfer about food. The aim of this manuscript was to conduct a systematic literature review for mechanisms for information transfer and their potential fitness consequences for bats.

    3. Information transfer behaviour is found in bats under various ecological conditions, including in groups of males in temperate regions, in groups of males or females in subtropical regions, and in mixed groups in tropical regions. Bats can learn about food indirectly, for example via chemical cues carried by the breath and body of frugivorous bats, or via acoustic cues from feeding buzzes from insectivorous bats. The majority of playback studies in captivity and in the wild showed stronger intra‐specific and inter‐specific attraction of bats to feeding buzzes than to silence controls or to search phase calls. Bats can also transfer information directly, via signals intended to attract, to repel or even to jam the echolocation of conspecifics.

    4. Social foraging in bats can be categorised as local enhancement, information‐centre hypothesis, group foraging or food sharing, depending on the type of information transfer and the food sources used. Fitness consequences of information transfer from the actor's and the recipient's perspective remain poorly investigated to date. Recent studies in insectivorous bats suggest a balance of benefits from prey searching and costs of acoustic interference that may condition group size.

    5. The future use of a wide array of methods promises to reveal exciting insights about mechanisms and fitness consequences of information transfer by bats about food.
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ISO 690GAGER, Yann, 2019. Information transfer about food as a reason for sociality in bats. In: Mammal Review. 2019, 49(2), pp. 113-120. ISSN 0305-1838. eISSN 1365-2907. Available under: doi: 10.1111/mam.12146
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@article{Gager2019-04Infor-45605,
  year={2019},
  doi={10.1111/mam.12146},
  title={Information transfer about food as a reason for sociality in bats},
  number={2},
  volume={49},
  issn={0305-1838},
  journal={Mammal Review},
  pages={113--120},
  author={Gager, Yann}
}
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