Bats are among the most diverse and most gregarious of all mammals. This makes them highly interesting for research on the causes and consequences of sociality in animals. Detailed studies on bat sociality are rare, however, when compared with the information available for other social mammals, such as primates, carnivores, ungulates, and rodents. Modern field technologies and new molecular methods are now providing opportunities to study aspects of bat biology that were previously inaccessible. Consequently, bat social systems are emerging as far more complex than had been imagined. Variable dispersal patterns, complex olfactory and acoustic communication, flexible context-related interactions, striking cooperative behaviors, and cryptic colony structures in the form of fission-fusion systems have been documented. Bat research can contribute to the understanding of animal sociality, and specifically to important topics in behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology, such as dispersal, fission-fusion behavior, group decisionmaking, and cooperation.
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Vol. 58 • No. 8