Female bats keep it in the family

Female bats share mates with relatives, but without close inbreeding.

Sharing the same sexual partner with your mother or grandmother may sound odd, but female greater horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) in Britain do it all the time.

This ensures that the bats in the colony are closely related to each other, says Stephen Rossiter at Queen Mary, University of London, lead author of a study appearing this week in Nature1. Researchers believe that such close family ties encourage cooperation, such as food sharing, between colony members.

Scientists from the University of Bristol and Queen Mary in London made the discovery using genetic techniques to construct family trees for the bats.

The bats produce only one offspring each year, so each animal represents the outcome of a separate mating.

Full article: Click here

Abstract: Nature 437, 408-411 (15 September 2005),
Rossiter, S.J. et al, Mate fidelity and intra-lineage polygyny in greater horseshoe bats Click here

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