Some of the most striking behaviours and characters in nature are the result of sexual selection, including sexual dimorphism in size, pigmentation, ornamentation and weaponry. Our understanding of sexual selection is largely based on birds and insects research and, of the mammals, primates and ungulates. Bats have received comparatively little attention. Indeed, bats may not appear to be the most obvious model for studying sexual selection because males lack the exaggerated weaponry seen in some mammals, and typically lack visually striking ornamental traits. However, bats are well placed for studying two key aspects of sexual selection, sperm competition and cryptic female choice. Here we introduce these processes, before explaining why they may be particularly important in bats. We then review research on sperm competition and cryptic female choice in bats and highlight the tremendous opportunities to improve our understanding further by studying the Chiroptera.
Keywords: Bats, Chiroptera, Cryptic female choice, Sexual conflict, Sexual selection, Sperm competition.