Mother bats facilitate pup navigation learning

Aya Goldshtein, Lee Harten, Yossi Yovel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Learning where to forage and how to navigate to foraging sites are among the most essential skills that infants must acquire. How they do so is poorly understood. Numerous bat species carry their young in flight while foraging. This behavior is costly, and the benefits for the offspring are not fully clear. Using GPS tracking of both mothers and bat pups, we documented the pups’ ontogeny from being non-volant to foraging independently. Our results suggest that mothers facilitate learning of navigation, assisting their pups with future foraging, by repeatedly placing them on specific trees and by behaving in a manner that seemed to encourage learning. Once independent, pups first flew alone to the same sites that they were carried to by their mothers, following similar routes used by their mothers, after which they began exploring new sites. Notably, in our observations, pups never independently followed their mothers in flight but were always carried by them, suggesting that learning occurred while passively being transported upside down.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-360.e4
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 24 Jan 2022


  • animal behavior
  • bats
  • maternal care
  • navigation
  • ontogeny
  • passive learning


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