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Immune-challenged vampire bats produce fewer contact calls

Abstract

Infections can affect how animals vocalize and, hence, interact with conspecifics. While this effect has been shown for mate-attraction calls, other vocalizations that facilitate social contact have received less attention. When isolated, vampire bats produce contact calls which attract highly associated groupmates. Here, we test the effect of an immune challenge on contact calling rates of individually isolated vampire bats. Sickness behavior did not appear to change call structure, but it decreased the number of contact calls produced. This effect could decrease contact with groupmates and augment other established mechanisms by which sickness reduces social encounters (e.g. mortality, lethargy, and social withdrawal or disinterest).

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