New paper on giving intranasal oxytocin to vampire bats

Intranasal oxytocin increases social grooming and food sharing in the common vampire bat Desmodus rotundus I gave two groups of highly familiar captive vampire bats intranasal oxytocin. In the first group intranasal oxytocin led to larger regurgitated food donations. In the second group, I gave a larger dose and found that oxytocin also increased allogrooming between adult … Continue reading New paper on giving intranasal oxytocin to vampire bats

How bats respond to distress calls: mobbing? Or predator inspection?

New paper came out on responses of a tropical free-tailed bat to distress calls. The title is Distress Calls of a Fast-Flying Bat (Molossus molossus) Provoke Inspection Flights but Not Cooperative Mobbing. Here's the story behind the paper. A year ago, I took a great field course on animal communication sponsored by a collaboration between German … Continue reading How bats respond to distress calls: mobbing? Or predator inspection?

Foraging vampire bats can expect big meals or none at all

About 7% of 340 adult vampire bats and 33% of 258 younger bats (<2 years of age) failed to feed on a given night. But when they do feed, wild vampire bats fill up like water balloons. Jon Flanders took this picture of a male vampire bat. He had originally caught this bat around the … Continue reading Foraging vampire bats can expect big meals or none at all

Can friendships reduce the burden on family?

In an upcoming paper, I show that when a female bat feeds another bat, this allows her to add another possible donor to her own 'social safety net'. There's an obvious benefit to her: bats with larger sharing networks are more successful at getting fed. But there’s potentially a more subtle benefit. If a hungry bat … Continue reading Can friendships reduce the burden on family?

Crèches in bats and the ‘huddler’s dilemma’

This photo taken by Jerry Wilkinson shows a tight cluster of bat pups in Africa (Rhinolophus darlingi). Several species of bats leave their pups behind in tight clusters like this called crèches. The smaller image shows one adult female greater spear-nosed bat (Phyllostomus hastatus) left behind with several pups unrelated to her. Both these images … Continue reading Crèches in bats and the ‘huddler’s dilemma’

Cancer as a breakdown of cooperation (and how science+internet = easier confirmation bias)

This post is going to be about a recent paper about cancer co-authored by my PhD advisor. But to explain why I'm excited about it, let me start at the beginning... I love it when I'm writing about a topic I know so well that I can drop the references into place as quickly as … Continue reading Cancer as a breakdown of cooperation (and how science+internet = easier confirmation bias)

Does neocortex size predict social grooming in bats?

The social brain hypothesis predicts that species with larger neocortex volume for their body size should possess more social complexity [1]. Does this apply to bats? It's not really clear. Wilkinson [2] found that relative cortex volume did not correlate with colony size, but it was greater among those bats with stable social groups. Colony size … Continue reading Does neocortex size predict social grooming in bats?

New reciprocity experiment with rats

Norway rats reciprocate help according to the quality of help they received Abstract: Direct reciprocity, according to the decision rule ‘help someone who has helped you before’, reflects cooperation based on the principle of postponed benefits. A predominant factor influencing Homo sapiens' motivation to reciprocate is an individ­ual's perceived benefit resulting from the value of … Continue reading New reciprocity experiment with rats

What are “prosocial” preferences? (+ news and updates)

Recent news Vampire bat food sharing is more complicated than a strict short-term exchange of a singe commodity. They do not use previous short-term experience as the sole predictor (a literal interpretation of tit-for-tat). Food sharing is based on long-term social bonds which are fairly consistent and robust to experimental perturbations among females (manuscript in … Continue reading What are “prosocial” preferences? (+ news and updates)