Echo-intensity compensation in echolocating bats (Pipistrellus abramus) during flight measured by a telemetry microphone

J Acoust Soc Am. 2007 Mar;121(3):1749-57. doi: 10.1121/1.2431337.


An onboard microphone (Telemike) was developed to examine changes in the basic characteristics of echolocation sounds of small frequency-modulated echolocating bats, Pipistrellus abramus. Using a dual high-speed video camera system, spatiotemporal observations of echolocation characteristics were conducted on bats during a landing flight task in the laboratory. The Telemike allowed us to observe emitted pulses and returning echoes to which the flying bats listened during flight, and the acoustic parameters could be precisely measured without traditional problems such as the directional properties of the recording microphone and the emitted pulse, or traveling loss of the sound in the air. Pulse intensity in bats intending to land exhibited a marked decrease by 30 dB within 2 m of the target wall, and the reduction rate was approximately 6.5 dB per halving of distance. The intensity of echoes returning from the target wall indicated a nearly constant intensity (-42.6 +/- 5.5 dB weaker than the pulse emitted in search phase) within a target distance of 2 m. These findings provide direct evidence that bats adjust pulse intensity to compensate for changes in echo intensity to maintain a constant intensity of the echo returned from the approaching target at an optimal range.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amplifiers, Electronic
  • Animals
  • Chiroptera
  • Echolocation / physiology*
  • Flight, Animal*
  • Sound
  • Telemetry / instrumentation*