Social Organization and Foraging Behaviour of the Fishing Bat, Noctilio leporinus (Chiroptera:Noctilionidae)


Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, PO Box 3730, Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799, USA.


Female Noctilio leporinus roost in groups that remain together, associated with the same individuals and in the same location, for several years regardless of turnover in resident males and movements of the group to alternate roosts. Females scent marked themselves with the sub-axial secretions of other females by rubbing their heads beneath other bats' wings. Males residing with female groups retain their tenure for two or more reproductive seasons. Bachelor males roost solitarily or in small groups apart from females. Together, these characteristics appear to form the basis of a polygynous social organization.

Female N. leporinus foraged solitarily or in small groups with other females from the same roost group. Stable female roost groups forage together and return to the same foraging areas over long periods of time. Bats assembled into small groups outside of the roost and flew together to foraging areas. Females from one roost group were monitored using the same foraging area for over a year. Bats foraged close enough to each other to communicate the location of prey either passively or actively. Roosts were not used as information centres, as bats rarely followed each other from the roost to forage. Males foraged solitarily, utilizing areas that were different from, and larger than, those of the females.