The sonar beam pattern of a flying bat as it tracks tethered insects

J Acoust Soc Am. 2003 Aug;114(2):1120-31. doi: 10.1121/1.1589754.


This paper describes measurements of the sonar beam pattern of flying echolocating bats, Eptesicus fuscus, performing various insect capture tasks in a large laboratory flight room. The beam pattern is deduced using the signal intensity across a linear array of microphones. The positions of the bat and insect prey are obtained by stereoscopic reconstruction from two camera views. Results are reported in the form of beam-pattern plots and estimated direction of the beam axis. The bat centers its beam axis on the selected target with a standard deviation (sigma) of 3 degrees. The experimental error is +/- 1.4 degrees. Trials conducted with two targets show that the bat consistently tracks one of the targets with its beam. These findings suggest that the axis of the bat sonar beam is a good index of selective tracking of targets, and in this respect is analogous to gaze in predominantly visual animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chiroptera
  • Echolocation / physiology*
  • Insecta*
  • Models, Biological
  • Predatory Behavior*
  • Ultrasonics