Misunderstandings about the "group selection controversy" continue to rumble on for some reason (especially in the study of humans), even though inclusive fitness (kin selection) and multi-level selection (group selection) are simply two alternative equivalent ways of modeling and talking about the same evolutionary reality. Here's a link to a discussion of the group selection controversy … Continue reading Clarifications about inclusive fitness and multi-level selection from David Queller
I came across this TV clip from 15 years ago with Jerry Wilkinson talking about his study on vampire bat food sharing...
Read our new paper here. You can learn a lot about the social life of an animal by learning what forms of communication they use. The communication system of vampire bats is similar to some other highly cognitive and cooperative species, like bottle-nosed dolphins. Both vampires and dolphins produce biosonar clicks and use longer tonal sounds … Continue reading New paper on social calls in vampire bats
A team of researches based in the USA and Peru conducted a rigorous study on rabies in vampire bats, and found some intriguing results. First, a bit about rabies. This is a terrible disease which infects and kills mammals (including bats, cattle, and humans). Rabies virus is spread from mammal to mammal via saliva, usually from … Continue reading Is killing vampire bats good for public health? No. It might increase rabies risks.
Tonight I watched 3-4 Eastern red bats foraging by the streetlight outside our house. This spectacle has been occurring every night lately. Absolutely beautiful. I will never look at hunting red bats the same after seeing Jesse Barber's hi-speed footage of red bats capturing moths.
Sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle. -Kropotkin (1902) Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution Ever since Darwin realized that his concept natural selection was the key driver of evolution, he and other biologists pondered one of the most puzzling and interesting questions in biology: why would individuals that help others … Continue reading Why vampire bats are a good experimental model of cooperation: natural, cognitive, and controllable
Everyone seems interested in human cooperation, even though humans are not as cute as other animals, like bats. But I figured I would write a blog post mainly about cooperation in humans (...but also other animals too). Imagine you and I are playing a trust game, an anonymous game played over a computer. We both … Continue reading Why are we so nice? Tales of human generosity, a “moral molecule”, and cooperation in rats
A few updates: 1. I've started building the flight cage to house the vampire bats and I've identified places where we can get cow blood near campus. 2. Our first small publication related to this project is scheduled to be published in about a week. It's a study on the complexity of the contact calls … Continue reading Ten fundraising days left on Petridish.org
I just learned that the young and brilliant bat researcher Bjorn Siemers died less than a week ago. These last few years have been a string of sadness for both bats and bat research. First there was the discovery of the massive death of bats at wind farms. As I was finishing college, it was … Continue reading A sad time for bats and bat biologists
There is some rich history and sociology in the study of the evolution of cooperation. Some of the biggest names in biology have debated this issue. In academia, using or ignoring the terms as defined by a previous scholar is akin to confirming or supporting their view. So scientific controversies can be influenced by decisions … Continue reading The use of the terms “reciprocity” and “reciprocal altruism” in biology