Sympatric woodland Myotis bats form tight-knit social groups with exclusive roost home ranges

August, Tom A.; Nunn, Miles A.; Fensome, Amy G.; Linton, Danielle M.; Mathews, Fiona. 2014 Sympatric woodland Myotis bats form tight-knit social groups with exclusive roost home ranges. PLoS ONE, 9 (10), e112225. 9, pp.

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Background: The structuring of wild animal populations can influence population dynamics, disease spread, and information transfer. Social network analysis potentially offers insights into these processes but is rarely, if ever, used to investigate more than one species in a community. We therefore compared the social, temporal and spatial networks of sympatric Myotis bats (M. nattereri (Natterer's bats) and M. daubentonii (Daubenton's bats)), and asked: (1) are there long-lasting social associations within species? (2) do the ranges occupied by roosting social groups overlap within or between species? (3) are M. daubentonii bachelor colonies excluded from roosting in areas used by maternity groups? Results: Using data on 490 ringed M. nattereri and 978 M. daubentonii from 379 colonies, we found that both species formed stable social groups encompassing multiple colonies. M. nattereri formed 11 mixed-sex social groups with few (4.3%) inter-group associations. Approximately half of all M. nattereri were associated with the same individuals when recaptured, with many associations being long-term (>100 days). In contrast, M. daubentonii were sexually segregated; only a quarter of pairs were associated at recapture after a few days, and inter-sex associations were not long-lasting. Social groups of M. nattereri and female M. daubentonii had small roost home ranges (mean 0.2 km2 in each case). Intra-specific overlap was low, but inter-specific overlap was high, suggesting territoriality within but not between species. M. daubentonii bachelor colonies did not appear to be excluded from roosting areas used by females. Conclusions: Our data suggest marked species- and sex-specific patterns of disease and information transmission are likely between bats of the same genus despite sharing a common habitat. The clear partitioning of the woodland amongst social groups, and their apparent reliance on small patches of habitat for roosting, means that localised woodland management may be more important to bat conservation than previously recognised.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 04 Mar 2015 16:06 +0 (UTC)

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