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Am Nat. 2007 Sep;170(3):465-72. Epub 2007 Jul 19.

Comparative analyses suggest that information transfer promoted sociality in male bats in the temperate zone.

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Zoologisches Institut, Universität Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland.


The evolution of sociality is a central theme in evolutionary biology. The vast majority of bats are social, which has been explained in terms of the benefits of communal breeding. However, the causes for segregated male groups remain unknown. In a comparative study, we tested whether diet and morphological adaptations to specific foraging styles, two factors known to influence the occurrence of information transfer, can predict male sociality. Our results suggest that the species most likely to benefit from information transfer--namely, those preying on ephemeral insects and with morphological adaptations to feeding in open habitat--are more likely to form male groups. Our findings also indicate that solitary life was the ancestral state of males and sociality evolved in several lineages. Beyond their significance for explaining the existence of male groups in bats, our findings highlight the importance of information transfer in the evolution of animal sociality.

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