Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 129–136 | Cite as

Social behavior of the little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus

I. Mating behavior
  • Donald W. Thomas
  • M. Brock Fenton
  • Robert M. R. Barclay


  1. 1.

    We studied the social and mating behavior of Myotis lucifugus at two hibernacula (Renfrew Mine and Tyendinaga Cave) in Ontario during the swarming and hibernation periods of 1976 and 1977.

  2. 2.

    During July the population of bats arriving at the hibernacula consisted of adult males and nulliparous females, while in August and September subadults and post-partum females predominated.

  3. 3.

    Inside the hibernacula bats often flew in pairs consisting of adult males following females, and transient groups of females and subadult males formed around adult males.

  4. 4.

    Mating began in late August and had two behaviourally distinct phases. Prior to the build-up of torpid females in the hibernacula, copulations followed both paired flying associations and interactions in groups. After torpid females became common, addult males often forced copulations with torpid bats of either sex.

  5. 5.

    Adult males showed no site fidelity or competition for females.

  6. 6.

    The mating system is described as indiscriminate and promiscuous, and the factors determining its structure are discussed.



Adult Male Social Behavior Mating System Mating Behavior Distinct Phasis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barclay, R.M.R., Fenton, M.B., Thomas, D.W.: Social behavior of the little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus. II. Vocal communication. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 6, 137–146 (1979)Google Scholar
  2. Barclay, R.M.R., Thomas, D.W.: Copulation call of Myotis lucifugus: A discrete, situation-specific communication signal. J. Mammal. 60, 632–634 (1979)Google Scholar
  3. Bradbury, J.W.: Social organization and communication. In: Biology of bats, Vol. III. Wimsatt, W.A. (ed.), pp. 2–72. New York: Academic 1977aGoogle Scholar
  4. Bradbury, J.W.: Lek mating behavior in the hammer-headed bat. Z. Tierpsychol. 45, 225–255 (1977b)Google Scholar
  5. Brandbury, J.W., Emmons, L.H.: Social organization of some Trinidad bats. I. Emballonuridae. Z. Tierpsychol. 36, 137–183 (1974)Google Scholar
  6. Bradbury, J.W., Vehrencamp, S.: Social organization and foraging in some emballonurid bats. I. Field studies. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 1, 337–381 (1976)Google Scholar
  7. Brosset, A.: Social organization in the African bat, Myotis boccagei. Z. Tierpsychol. 42, 50–56 (1976)Google Scholar
  8. Buchler, E.R.: A chemiluminescent tag for tracking bats and other small, nocturnal animals. J. Mammal. 57, 173–176 (1976)Google Scholar
  9. Carter, D.C.: Chiropteran reproduction. In: About bats. Slaughter, B.H., Walton, D.W. (eds.), pp. 233–246. Dallas: Southern Methodist University 1970Google Scholar
  10. Davis, W.H., Hitchcock, H.B.: Biology and migration of the bat Myotis lucifugus, in New England. J. Mammal. 46, 296–313 (1965)Google Scholar
  11. Dwyer, P.D.: Social organization in the bat Myotis adversus. Science 168, 1006–1008 (1970)Google Scholar
  12. Emlen, S.T., Oring, L.W.: Ecology, sexual selection and the evolution of mating systems. Science 197, 215–223 (1977)Google Scholar
  13. Fenton, M.B.: Summer activity of Myotis lucifugus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) at hibernacula in Ontario and Quebec. Can. J. Zool. 47, 597–602 (1969)Google Scholar
  14. Fenton, M.B.: Population studies of Myotis lucifugus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionídae) in Ontario. R. Ont. Mus. Life Sci. Contrib. 77, 1–34 (1970)Google Scholar
  15. Griffin, D.R.: Notes on the life histories of New England cave bats. J. Mammal. 21, 181–187 (1940)Google Scholar
  16. Gopalakrishna, A., Madhaven, A.: Survival of spermatozoa in the female genital tract of the Indian vespertilionid bat, Pipistrellus ceylonicus chrysothrix (Wroughton). Proc. Indian Acad. Sci. [B] 73, 43–49 (1971)Google Scholar
  17. Gustafson, A.W., Shemesh, M.: Changes in plasma testosterone levels during the annual reproductive cycle of the hibernating bat, Myotis lucifugus, with a survey of plasma testosterone levels in adult male vertebrates. Biol. Reprod. 15, 9–24 (1976)Google Scholar
  18. Guthrie, M.J.: The reproductive cycle of some cave bats. J. Mammal. 14, 199–216 (1933)Google Scholar
  19. Hall, J.S., Brenner, F.J.: Summer netting of bats at a cave in Pennsylvania. J. Mammal. 49, 779–781 (1968)Google Scholar
  20. Hartman, C.G.: On the survival of spermatozoa in the female genital tract of the bat. Q. Rev. Biol. 8, 185–193 (1933)Google Scholar
  21. Hitchcock, H.B.: Hibernation of bats in southeastern Ontario and adjacent Quebec. Can. Field Nat. 63, 47–59 (1949)Google Scholar
  22. Humphrey, S.R., Cope, J.B.: Population ecology of the little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus, in Indiana and northcentral Kentucky. Spec. Publ. Am. Soc. Mammal. 4, 1–81 (1976)Google Scholar
  23. Krutzsch, P.H.: Reproduction of the canyon bat, Pipistrellus hesperus, in southwestern United States. Am. J. Anat. 143, 163–200 (1975)Google Scholar
  24. Koopman, K.F.: Zoogeography of bats. In: About bats. Slaughter, B.H., Walton, D.W. (eds.), pp. 29–50. Dallas: Southern Methodist University 1970Google Scholar
  25. Marler, P.: Communication in monkeys and apes. In: Primate behavior: Field studies of monkeys and apes. DeVore, I. (ed.), pp. 544–584. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1965Google Scholar
  26. McCracken, G.F., Brandbury, J.W.: Paternity and genetic heterogeneity in the polygynous bat, Phyllostomus hastatus. Science 198, 303–306 (1977)Google Scholar
  27. Medway, G.G.: Reproductive cycles of the flat-headed bats Tylonycteris pachypus and T. robustula (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae), in a humid equatorial environment. Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 51, 33–61 (1972)Google Scholar
  28. Myers, P.: Patterns of reproduction of four species of vespertilionid bats in Paraguay. Univ. Calif. Berkeley Publ. Zool. 107, 1–41 (1977)Google Scholar
  29. Nelson, J.E.: Behaviour of Australian Pteropodidae (Megachiroptera). Anim. Behav. 13, 544–557 (1965)Google Scholar
  30. Orians, G.H.: On the evolution of mating systems in birds and mammals. Am. Nat. 103, 589–603 (1969)Google Scholar
  31. O'Shea, T.J.: Aspects of social organization, behavior and ecology in a Kenya population of the bat, Pipistrellus nanus (Chiroptera, Vespertilionidae). Unpublished Ph. D. thesis, Northern Arizona University (1977)Google Scholar
  32. Racey, P.: Aging and assessment of reproductive status of pipistrelle bats, Pipistrellus pipistrellus. J. Zool. 173, 264–271 (1974)Google Scholar
  33. Racey, P., Kleiman, D.G.: Observations on the noctule bat (Nyctalus noctula) breeding in captivity. Lynx 10, 65–77 (1969)Google Scholar
  34. Sluiter, J.W., Van Heerdt, P.F.: Seasonal habits of the noctule bat (Nyctalus noctula). Arch. Neerl. Zool. 16, 423–435 (1966)Google Scholar
  35. Trivers, R.L.: Parental investment and sexual selection. In: Sexual selection and the descent of man. Campbell, B. (ed.), pp. 156–179. Chicago: Aldine 1972Google Scholar
  36. Tuttle, M.D.: An improved trap for bats. J. Mammal. 55, 475–477 (1974)Google Scholar
  37. Walls, G.L.: The vertebrate eye and its adaptive radiation. Cranbrook Inst. Sci. Bull. 19, 1–785 (1942)Google Scholar
  38. Wimsatt, W.A.: Further studies on the survival of spermatozoa in the female reproductive tract of the bat. Anat. Rec. 88, 193–204 (1944)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald W. Thomas
    • 1
  • M. Brock Fenton
    • 1
  • Robert M. R. Barclay
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations