In many social animals, groups recurrently split into subgroups that regularly re-merge. Such fission-fusion behavior allows individuals to better balance the cost and benefits of group living. However, maintaining a large number of close social links in groups with fission-fusion dynamics may be difficult. It has been suggested that this is the reason why in several species, large groups show more subunits (higher modularity) than do small ones. Many bat species exhibit fission-fusion dynamics in their colonies. This makes them well suited to investigate the proposed link between group size, stability of social links, and group modularity. We studied the daily roosting associations of a Natterer’s bat colony (Myotis nattereri), where up to 80 members carried individual RFID-tags. Based on more than 10,000 individual recordings, we analyzed the influence of relatedness, age, sex, and breeding status on the colony’s social network structure during three breeding seasons. We found an almost fully connected social network with very low modularity and generally weak pairwise associations. Nevertheless, the relative strengths of associations between individuals remained stable across years. Sex, age, and breeding status significantly influenced the strength of an individual’s associations and determined the influence of individuals in the network. In general,
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology – Springer Journals
Published: May 31, 2018
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