Biosonar signals impinging on the target during interception by big brown bats, Eptesicus fuscus

J Acoust Soc Am. 2007 May;121(5 Pt1):3001-10. doi: 10.1121/1.2714920.


Big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) were videotaped in the dark with a night-vision lens and infrared illumination while flying repeatedly along the same straight course to seize a tethered mealworm or a small electret microphone used to record biosonar signals impinging on the target. Bats emitted frequency-modulated sounds with first to third harmonics covering frequencies from 23 to 105 kHz. As the bats neared the target, the first harmonic shifted lower in frequency while the third harmonic strengthened and the fourth harmonic, and sometimes the fifth harmonic, appeared. Incident-sound bandwidth remained broad throughout the maneuver, a feature not seen in field recordings of rapidly moving bats due to propagation losses and uncontrolled directional effects. Sound pressures at the microphone increased by about 20 dB during approach from 2.5 m down to 50 cm and then leveled off, indicating that emitted amplitudes were approximately constant until the terminal stage, when they progressively decreased for the remainder of the maneuver. Interpulse intervals decreased from 80-100 ms down to about 6-7 ms and then stabilized throughout the terminal stage, while durations decreased smoothly from 3-4 ms (limited by adjacent wall) down to 0.5 ms during the terminal stage, which ended with capture.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animal Communication*
  • Animals
  • Chiroptera
  • Echolocation*
  • Ultrasonics*