Selection on social traits in greater spear-nosed bats, Phyllostomus hastatus

Research paper by Janette Wenrick Boughman

Indexed on: 28 Jun '06Published on: 28 Jun '06Published in: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology


Many studies assume that selection molds social traits and have investigated the manner in which this occurs, yet very few studies have measured the strength of selection on social traits in natural populations. In this paper, I report results of phenotypic selection analyses on two social traits – the size of social groups and the frequency of group foraging – in Phyllostomus hastatus, the greater spear-nosed bat. I found significant positive directional selection on individual group foraging frequency, but no directional selection on individuals in different-sized social groups. These results have implications for the structure of social groups, cooperative behavior among group mates, and maternal investment strategies. I argue that combining studies of natural selection on wild populations with experiments to identify the agents and mechanisms of selection can do much to increase our understanding of social evolution.