Once thought to be uniquely human, prosocial behavior has been observed in a number of species, including vampire bats that engage in costly food-sharing. Another social chiropteran, Jamaican fruit bats (Artibeus jamaicensis
), have been observed to engage in cooperative mate guarding, and thus might be expected to display prosocial behavior as well. However, frugivory and hematophagy diets may impose different selection pressures on prosocial preferences, given that prosocial preferences may depend upon cognitive abilities selected by different ecological constraints. Thus, we assessed whether Jamaican fruit bats would assist a conspecific in an escape paradigm in which a donor could opt to release a recipient from an enclosure. The test apparatus contained two compartments—one of which was equipped with a sensor that, once triggered, released the trap door of the adjacent compartment. Sixty-six exhaustive pairs of 12 bats were tested, with each bat in each role, twice when the recipient was present and twice when absent. Bats decreased their behavior of releasing the trapdoor in both conditions over time, decreasing the behavior slightly more rapidly in the recipient absent condition. Bats did not release the door more often when recipients were present, regardless of the recipient; thus, there was no clear evidence of prosocial behavior.
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