EEB seminar: January 29th


This Thursday, Dr. Krista Patriquin will tell us about

Evolution of Sociality in Bats

at 12:30 in the EEB lounge (BioSciences 4338)

The seminar is hosted by the Ratcliffe Lab


Individual costs and benefits of living in groups vary with group size, stability, and composition. Investigations of these features of group living has led to the recognition of a variety of social structures. As part of my PhD work, I examined the causes and consequences of fission-fusion dynamics by exploring the socioecology of female northern long-eared bats, Myotis septentrionalis, which is comparatively less well understood than for those animals with long-term, stable groups.

Like many temperate bats, female northern long-eared bats show natal philopatry to summer areas. During this time, they live in groups with fission-fusion dynamics as individuals move among a network of roosts and roost-groups. I demonstrated that fission-fusion dynamics may be explained, at least in part, by changes in ambient conditions that prompt frequent roost-switching. Yet, despite the highly dynamic nature of these groups, females formed long-term social relationships that were based in part on age and genetic relatedness. These findings have potential consequences for the evolution of social behaviour within groups, such as cooperation and nepotism. These findings also suggest female northern myotis have a similar structure to elephants and whales that live in groups made up of older matriarchs and their descendants.

Recognizing the striking similarities among bats and taxa with culture, including elephants, primates, and cetaceans, I demonstrated through a literature review that bats have group differences in socially-learned foraging behaviour and vocalizations. They also have normative and symbolic behaviour as vocalizations can be used to recognize group members. I therefore concluded there is evidence that bats may have culture, which I will begin to explore as part of my post-doc work.

By answering these questions, I can then look for parallels with other taxa to answer questions about the evolution of different social systems and culture.


Dr. Patriquin completed her PhD, focusing on bat social behaviour, at Dalhousie University. She has just migrated to the GTA from Halifax to start an NSERC post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto Mississauga, where she will examine the evolution of social learning in bats.

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