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, 48 (1), 107-18

Brazilian Free-Tailed Bats (Tadarida Brasiliensis: Molossidae, Chiroptera) at High Altitude: Links to Migratory Insect Populations

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Brazilian Free-Tailed Bats (Tadarida Brasiliensis: Molossidae, Chiroptera) at High Altitude: Links to Migratory Insect Populations

Gary F McCracken et al. Integr Comp Biol.

Abstract

Existing information on the activity of bats in the aerosphere is restricted almost exclusively to altitudes that are within a few tens of meters above the ground. We report a total of 50.2 h of ultrasonic recordings made using radio microphonic bat detectors suspended from free-floating helium balloons and from kites. The data include a total of 22 353 echolocative calls from ground-level to 1118 m above ground level (AGL). These calls are attributed to Brazilian free-tailed bats based on acoustic features and the large numbers and high-altitude aerial dispersion of these bats over the local landscape. Bat activity varied significantly throughout the air column and was greatest at 400-500 m AGL and near ground level. Feeding buzzes, indicating feeding on aerial prey, were most abundant near ground level and at 400-500 m, and were detected to altitudes of ∼ 900 m AGL. The peak activity of bats at 400-500 m AGL is concordant with the altitude of the atmospheric boundary layer and the seasonal formation of the low-elevation southerly wind jet that has been identified as a major aeroecological corridor for the nocturnal dispersal of noctuid moths and other insects.

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