Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 371–380 | Cite as

Spatio-temporal vigilance architecture of an Australian flying-fox colony

  • Stefan M. Klose
  • Justin A. Welbergen
  • Anne W. Goldizen
  • Elisabeth K. V. Kalko
Original Paper


The social structure of animal aggregations may vary considerably in both space and time, yet little is known about how this affects vigilance. Here, we investigate the vigilance architecture of a colony of wild-living grey-headed flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) in Australia and examine how spatial as well as temporal variation in social organization influences social and environmental vigilance. We sampled color-marked individuals at different stages of the reproductive cycle and the year and at different locations in the colony to examine the effects of temporal and spatial factors on social and environmental vigilance. We found that vigilance architecture reflected the social structure of the colony, with the highest environmental vigilance being displayed by bats at the periphery of the colony, and the highest social vigilance by bats that roosted at intermediate distances from the colony’s edge. Furthermore, we found that vigilance levels reflected changes in reproductive state, with social vigilance increasing toward the mating season, particularly in males. Our findings show that spatial and temporal variation in social structure can have differential effects on social and environmental vigilance. This highlights the necessity to differentiate between functions of vigilance to understand fully vigilance architecture in aggregations of social animals.


Cooperation Risk dilution Antipredatory strategies Behavioral monitoring Chiroptera 



We wish to thank Silke Berger, Joanna Fietz, Les Hall, Kirsten Jung, Christoph Meyer, Nico Janicke, Kevin Murray, Martin Pfeiffer, and an anonymous referee for comments and discussions, and David Drynan, Allan Goodwin, Dave Pinson, Amy Noone, Peter Rohde, and Jodi Thomas as well as the team of Luffley Café for their excellent logistic support. The Tweed Shire Council, Diane Mitchell, and Harry Williams allowed us to work on their properties. Financial support at different stages of this project came from the Australian Government Endeavour Programme, Donors’ Association for the Promotion of Science and Humanities in Germany (“Stifterverband”), Friedrich Ebert Foundation, German Academic Exchange Service and Qantas Airways (all to S.M.K.). This study was carried out in compliance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Australia under appropriate ethics and research permits issued by the University of Queensland Animal Ethics Committee, NSW Department of Agriculture, NSW Parks and Wildlife Service, and the Australian Nature Conservation Agency (ABBBS).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan M. Klose
    • 1
    • 2
  • Justin A. Welbergen
    • 3
  • Anne W. Goldizen
    • 2
  • Elisabeth K. V. Kalko
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Experimental EcologyUniversity of UlmUlmGermany
  2. 2.School of Integrative BiologyUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  4. 4.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboaPanama

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