Updates: a conference talk, an outreach talk, and an article (and soon… results)

Did you know that Oct 26–Nov 1 is National Bat Week?

October 23. Bat Meetings in Albany, NY. My 15-min talk is “Complex Cooperation: Food Sharing in Vampire Bats is Not Simply “Tit For  Tat”

October 30. Public outreach event at the Museum of Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas entitled Vampire Bats: The Secret Lives of Real Vampires. A kid-friendly talk with games and activities. 6-8 pm in the Helen DeVitt Jones Sculpture Court. With cookies apparently! https://www.depts.ttu.edu/museumttu/programscal14.html#oct13

Also, there’s an ongoing exhibit, “Vampire Bats – The Good, the Bad, and the Amazing” at this museum. I’ll be staying in Lubbock, Texas until Nov 1.

I also recently wrote this paper on why behavioral ecologists don’t agree on the importance of reciprocity in animal social behavior. In a nutshell, it’s because different authors use the term in contradicting ways (only some of which make sense). This paper was generously invited by my friend and collaborator Dr. Jennifer Vonk, who studies animal cognition. Here’s the abstract:

Reciprocity (or reciprocal altruism) was once considered an important and widespread evolutionary explanation for cooperation, yet many reviews now conclude that it is rare or absent outside of humans. Here, I show that nonhuman reciprocity seems rare mainly because its meaning has changed over time. The original broad concept of reciprocity is well supported by evidence, but subsequent divergent uses of the term have relied on
various translations of the strategy ‘tit-for-tat’ in the repeated Prisoner‘s Dilemma game. This model has resulted in four problematic approaches to defining and testing reciprocity. Authors that deny evidence of nonhuman reciprocity tend to (1) assume that it requires sophisticated cognition, (2) focus exclusively on short-term contingency with a single partner, (3) require paradoxical evidence for a temporary lifetime fitness cost, and (4) assume that responses to investments are fixed. While these restrictions basically define reciprocity out of existence, evidence shows that fungi, plants, fish, birds, rats, and primates enforce mutual benefit by contingently altering their cooperative investments based on the cooperative returns, just as predicted by the original reciprocity theory.

Today, after manually entering >3,000 rows of behavioral observations into excel from paper scoresheets, I’ve decided to record observations on computers whenever possible. Makes me wonder what kinds of apps are available for data scoring?

Finally, I should know by the end of the day whether my oxytocin treatments worked. The treatments seemed to slightly increase grooming and food sharing in the first pilot study with a small group of females, but they did not seem to work in a second small study with male bats and their moms. I’ll see very soon how it turned out.

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About Gerry Carter

I study the behavioral, sensory, and social ecology of vampire bats. http://socialbat.org.
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3 Responses to Updates: a conference talk, an outreach talk, and an article (and soon… results)

  1. okeefelab says:

    Gerry, see this link for some potential apps to use for scoring data. I haven’t tried any, but my grad student highly recommends this page. See you soon in Albany! http://brunalab.org/apps/

  2. Jeremy says:

    Hey Gerry. You continue to inspire!
    By the way, for your Excel data, maybe this will be useful?
    http://openrefine.org/

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