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Activity pattern and fat accumulation strategy of the Natterer’s bat (Vespertilionidae, Chiroptera) swarming population indicate the exact time of male mating effort
- Kohyt, Joanna, Rozik, Agata, Kozakiewicz, Katarzyna, Pereswiet-Soltan, Andrea, Gubała, Wojciech J.
- Mammal research 2016 v.61 no.4 pp. 383-389
- Vespertilionidae, adults, autumn, body condition, females, foraging, hibernation, males, mating behavior, swarming, winter
- Studies concerning bat autumn swarming behavior suggest that the main purpose of this phenomenon is mating. However, the process of fat accumulation is crucial for surviving winter, and it seems to be in clear conflict with a need to strive for the opportunity to mate prior to hibernation. Investment in one activity limits the other one creating a trade-off between them. The aim of our study was to describe the activity pattern of each sex-age group (adult males, adult females, subadults) of the Natterer’s bat during swarming period and to investigate the fat accumulation process of adult males in the context of their reproductive strategy. Bats were captured by mist nets at the swarming site fortnightly from the early August until the late November. The age, sex, reproductive status, and body condition index (mass to forearm ratio, BCI) were recorded. The activity peak of both sexes, adults, and subadults was observed in the late September. That time in season, BCI of adult males was the lowest, and there was no correlation between the hour of an adult male capture and its BCI value within one night (r ₛ = 0.23; p = 0.157). Such correlation was observed later in the season (early October: r ₛ = 0.44; p = 0.020; late October: r ₛ = 0.48; p = 0.002). A negative correlation between adult males’ BCI and proportion of adult females was found (r = 0.44; p = 0.000). We conclude that the activity peak of females is likely to be responsible for the effort of the mating behavior of the males, which is reflected by their low condition index. We suggest that the gleaning foraging strategy of Natterer’s bat allows the males to postpone their fat accumulation until just before hibernation.