Kin structure and roost fidelity in greater noctule bats

João D. Santos, Christoph F.J. Meyer, Carlos Ibáñez, Ana G. Popa-Lisseanu, Javier Juste

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Roost fidelity is an important aspect of mammalian biology. Studying the mechanisms underlying philopatry can help us understand a species’ energetic requirements, ecological constraints and social organisation. Temperate bat species notably exhibit a high degree of female philopatry considering their size, resulting in maternity colonies segregated at the mitochondrial level. We focus on the greater noctule, Nyctalus lasiopterus, to study this behaviour in more depth. We make use of microsatellite data for 11 markers across 84 individuals residing in Maria Luisa Park in Seville, Spain. At the time of sampling this urban park boasted the highest number of bats of any known colony of this species, among which three social groups were observed to segregate spatially. We studied the distribution of pairs of individuals across filial relationship categories and relatedness estimates relative to the social group of each individual. This analysis was complemented by information on roost-use frequency among a subset of genotyped bats. We found no significant relationship between roost use and genetic distance, but there was evidence that more closely related bats are more likely to be found in the same social group. Mother-daughter pairs shared the same group more often than expected, as did pairs of individuals of relatedness above 0.43. We discuss the implications of these results in terms of the behavioural ecology of temperate bats and for conservation efforts aimed at preserving them.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-29
Number of pages10
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
StatePublished - Feb 5 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-02-23
Acknowledgements: J. Nogueras and C. Ruiz helped collecting bat samples. We particularly thank J.L. García-Mudarra and J.M. Arroyos-Salas for valuable advice and their technical insight. We also acknowledge the staff of the Servicio de Parques y Jardines de Sevilla for their help and continuous support of our research. Logistical support was provided by the Laboratorio de Ecología Molecular, Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC (LEM-EBD). The regional government of Andalusia provided permits for collecting samples and handling of bats. This study was partially funded by the Spanish MICINN CGL 2009- 12393, the PPNN 021/2002 and 1981/2010. JDS would like to acknowledge support from the Erasmus Student Mobility program. We thank Nicolas Fasel and two anonymous reviewers for valuable feedback on an earlier version of the manuscript.


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