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Abstract

Social interaction occurs in bats. In a group of 10 Megaderma lyra (seven female and two male adults, as well as one female juvenile) held in captivity, two stereotyped flying behaviour patterns —the ‘grumbling flight’ and the ‘song flight’ — were observed and studied. The ‘grumbling flight’ is a social interaction in flight between at least two Megaderma lyra in which ‘grumble sequences’ are emitted. This behaviour is triggered by stress or arising aggression, and presumably attempts to avoid agonistic interactions with dangerous physical contact. The song flight was exclusively displayed by the dominant male bat and only directed at the non-lactating female members of the group, with a preference to alien females. This behaviour is composed of three behavioural stages, each accompanied by a specific ‘song strophe’. The song flight presumably aims at bonding the females to the male. During the grumbling flight and the song flight, M. lyra emits communication sounds in the ultrasonic range. The sounds consist of simple elements (FMdown, FMup, CF), and are similar to types of sounds emitted for echolocation by various bat species.