Multi-echo processing by a bottlenose dolphin operating in "packet" transmission mode at long range

J Acoust Soc Am. 2014 Nov;136(5):2876-86. doi: 10.1121/1.4898043.


Bottlenose dolphins performing echolocation tasks at long ranges may utilize a transmission mode where bursts, or "packets," of echolocation clicks are emitted rather than single clicks. The clicks within each packet are separated by time intervals well below the two-way travel time, while the packets themselves are emitted at intervals greater than the two-way travel time. Packet use has been shown to increase with range; however, the exact function of packets and the advantages gained by their utilization remain unknown. In this study, the capability for dolphins to utilize multi-echo processing within packets of echoes was investigated by manipulating the number of available echoes within each packet as a dolphin performed a long-range echolocation task. The results showed an improvement in detectability with an increase in the number of echoes in each packet and suggest that packet use is an adaptation to allow multi-echo processing at long ranges without introducing range ambiguity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bottle-Nosed Dolphin / physiology*
  • Bottle-Nosed Dolphin / psychology
  • Echolocation / physiology*
  • Female
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Sound
  • Vocalization, Animal*