Vampire bats form strong bonds with other members of the colony. A related unique adaptation of vampire bats is the sharing of food. A vampire bat can only survive about two days without feeding, yet they cannot be guaranteed of finding food every night. This poses a problem, so when a bat fails to find food, it will often "beg" another bat for food. A "donor" bat may regurgitate a small amount of blood to sustain the other member of the colony. For equally familiar bats, the predictive capacity of reciprocity surpasses that of relatedness. This finding suggests that vampire bats are capable of preferentially aiding their relatives, but that they may benefit more from forming reciprocal, cooperative relationships with relatives and non-relatives alike. Furthermore, donor bats were more likely to approach starving bats and initiate the food sharing. When individuals of a population are lost, bats with a larger number of mutual donors tend to offset their own energetic costs at a higher rate than bats that fed less of the colony before the removal. Individuals that spend their own energy as a social investment of sorts are more likely to thrive, and higher rates of survival incentivize the behavior and reinforce the importance of large social networks in colonies. These findings contradict the harassment hypothesis—which claims that individuals share food in order to limit harassment by begging individuals. All considered, vampire bat research should be interpreted cautiously as much of the evidence is correlational and still requires further testing.
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