Stereotypy and variability of social calls among clustering female big-footed myotis (Myotis macrodactylus)

Zool Res. 2018 Mar 18;39(2):114-122. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2018.026.


Echolocating bats have developed advanced auditory perception systems, predominantly using acoustic signaling to communicate with each other. They can emit a diverse range of social calls in complex behavioral contexts. This study examined the vocal repertoire of five pregnant big-footed myotis bats (Myotis macrodactylus). In the process of clustering, the last individual to return to the colony (LI) emitted social calls that correlated with behavior, as recorded on a PC-based digital recorder. These last individuals could emit 10 simple monosyllabic and 27 complex multisyllabic types of calls, constituting four types of syllables. The social calls were composed of highly stereotyped syllables, hierarchically organized by a common set of syllables. However, intra-specific variation was also found in the number of syllables, syllable order and patterns of syllable repetition across call renditions. Data were obtained to characterize the significant individual differences that existed in the maximum frequency and duration of calls. Time taken to return to the roost was negatively associated with the diversity of social calls. Our findings indicate that variability in social calls may be an effective strategy taken by individuals during reintegration into clusters of female M. macrodactylus.

Keywords: Big-footed myotis; Clustering; Social calls.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics
  • Animals
  • Chiroptera* / psychology
  • Female
  • Social Behavior
  • Vocalization, Animal*

Grant support

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31700319, 31670390); the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2412017QD026); U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) (DEB-1115895); and the National Science Foundation (NSF) East Asian Pacific Summer Institute Program IIA-1415092