Relatedness, parentage, and philopatry within a Natterer’s bat (Myotis nattereri) maternity colony

David Scott, Emma Boston, Mathieu Lundy, Daniel J. Buckley, Yann Gager, Callum J. Chaplain, Emma C. Teeling, William Montgomery, Paulo Prodöhl

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Given their cryptic behaviour, it is often difficult to establish kinship within microchiropteran maternity colonies. This limits understanding of group formation within this highly social group. Following a concerted effort to comprehensively sample a Natterer’s bat (Myotis nattereri) maternity colony over two consecutive summers, we employed microsatellite DNA profiling to examine genetic relatedness among individuals. Resulting data were used to ascertain female kinship, parentage, mating strategies, and philopatry. Overall, despite evidence of female philopatry, relatedness was low both for adult females and juveniles of both sexes. The majority of individuals within the colony were found to be unrelated or distantly related. However, parentage analysis indicates the existence of a number of maternal lineages (e.g., grandmother, mother, or daughter). There was no evidence suggesting that males born within the colony are mating with females of the same colony. Thus, in this species, males appear to be the dispersive sex. In the Natterer’s bat, colony formation is likely to be based on the benefits of group living, rather than kin selection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalPopulation Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2018


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