Place your bets: small prey faces large predators

In: Behaviour
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  • 1 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama 0843-03092, Panama
  • | 2 Laboratorio de Zoología Aplicada, Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Los Andes, Mérida 5101, Venezuela
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Interspecific aggression is common between species that live together. We describe such behaviour in a mixed-species bat roost. A single small-bodied (approx. 15 g) frugivorous bat, Carollia perspicillata, aggressively antagonized a group of much larger (approx. 34 g) bats, Trachops cirrhosus, in defence of a roosting site, resulting in the larger T. cirrhosus relinquishing the site. This interaction was striking as T. cirrhosus are known to consume C. perspicillata. The small ‘prey’ individual caused the group of larger ‘predators’ to leave the roosting area by intensely vocalizing, rapidly flapping its wings, hitting the faces of the other bats with its wings, and flinging its body at the other bats. To our knowledge, this type of interspecies agonistic behaviour has never been observed before in bats and highlights the importance of intensively studying behavioural interactions in nature.

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