Development of new food-sharing relationships in vampire bats

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CARTER, Gerald G., Damien R. FARINE, Rachel J. CRISP, Julia K. VRTILEK, Simon P. RIPPERGER, Rachel A. PAGE, 2020. Development of new food-sharing relationships in vampire bats. In: Current Biology. Cell Press. ISSN 0960-9822. eISSN 1879-0445

@article{Carter2020Devel-49081, title={Development of new food-sharing relationships in vampire bats}, url={}, year={2020}, issn={0960-9822}, journal={Current Biology}, author={Carter, Gerald G. and Farine, Damien R. and Crisp, Rachel J. and Vrtilek, Julia K. and Ripperger, Simon P. and Page, Rachel A.} }

Vrtilek, Julia K. Vrtilek, Julia K. Farine, Damien R. Farine, Damien R. In an individualized animal society, social bonds can foster cooperation and enhance survival and reproduction. Cooperative bonds often exist among kin, but nonkin can also develop high-investment cooperative bonds that share similarities with human friendship. How do such bonds form? One theory suggests that strangers should ‘test the waters’ of a new relationship by making small initial cooperative investments and gradually escalating them with good partners. This ‘raising-the-stakes’ strategy is demonstrated by human strangers in short-term economic games, but it remains unclear whether it applies to helping in a natural long-term social bond. Here we show evidence that unfamiliar vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) selectively escalate low-cost investments in allogrooming before developing higher-cost food-sharing relationships. We introduced females from geographically distant sites in pairs or groups and observed that bats established new reciprocal grooming relationships, and that increasing grooming rates predicted the occurrence of first food donations, at which point grooming rates no longer increased. New food-sharing relationships emerged reciprocally in 14% of female pairs, typically over 10-15 months, and developed faster when strangers lacked alternative familiar partners. A gradual grooming-to-sharing transition among past strangers suggests that ‘raising the stakes’ might be more evident when tracking multiple cooperative behaviours as new relationships form, rather than measuring a single behavior in an established relationship. ‘Raising the stakes’ could play a similar underappreciated role across a broader spectrum of social decisions with long-term consequences, such as joining a new social group or forming a long-term pair-bond.<br /><br />Significance statement Vampire bats form long-term cooperative social bonds that involve reciprocal food sharing. How do two unrelated bats go from being strangers to having a high-investment food-sharing relationship? We introduced unfamiliar bats and found evidence that low-cost grooming paves the way for higher-cost food donations. Food sharing emerged in a reciprocal fashion and it emerged faster when two strangers did not have access to their original groupmates. The bats that formed new food-sharing relationships had a history of escalating reciprocal grooming up until the food sharing began. Our finding that unfamiliar nonkin vampire bats appear to gradually and selectively transition from low-cost to high-cost cooperative behaviors is the first evidence that nonhuman individuals ‘raise the stakes’ when forming new cooperative relationships. Page, Rachel A. 2020 Crisp, Rachel J. terms-of-use Carter, Gerald G. Crisp, Rachel J. eng Carter, Gerald G. Page, Rachel A. Development of new food-sharing relationships in vampire bats Ripperger, Simon P. Ripperger, Simon P. 2020-03-17T15:18:28Z 2020-03-17T15:18:28Z

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