Animals use social information from conspecifics as an extended sensor network to monitor their environment and may bias their preference to information from particular individuals, e.g. individuals they are most familiar with. This may be especially important for energy-constrained foragers, such as the frugivorous Peter's tent-making bat, Uroderma bilobatum. We used the outcome of a two-demonstrator social-learning test in which individual U. bilobatum had to make cue-elicited decisions based on food odours from bats from different social groups to test three alternative hypotheses. Bats could show either (1) a preference for information from roostmates (‘familiar social partner’), (2) no bias in information used (‘any social partner’) or (3) a preference for novel cues from nonroostmates (‘novel social partner’ hypothesis). We found that U. bilobatum preferred food demonstrated by nonroostmates to that demonstrated by roostmates, providing support for the novel social partner hypothesis. Uroderma bilobatum bias their attention towards novel conspecifics, perhaps as a strategy for acquiring knowledge of unknown ephemeral food sources, which in turn might help them survive resource bottlenecks.
Ramakers, J. J. C., Dechmann, D. K. N., Page, R. A., & O'Mara, M. T. (2016). Frugivorous bats prefer information from novel social partners. Animal Behaviour, 116, 83–87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.03.021