Spatially Dependent Acoustic Cues Generated by the External Ear of the Big Brown Bat, Eptesicus Fuscus

J Acoust Soc Am. 1995 Sep;98(3):1423-45. doi: 10.1121/1.413410.


To measure the directionality of the external ear of the echolocating bat, Eptesicus fuscus, the left or right eardrum of a dead bat was replaced by a microphone which recorded signals received from a sound source that was moved around the stationary head. The test signal was a 0.5-ms FM sweep from 100 kHz to 10 kHz (covering all frequencies in the bat's biosonar sounds). Notches and peaks in transfer functions for 7 tested ears varied systematically with changes in elevation. For the most prominent notch, center frequency decreased from about 50 kHz for elevations at or near the horizontal to 30-40 kHz for elevations 30 degrees-40 degrees below the horizontal. A second notch shifted from about 85 kHz to 70 kHz over these same elevations. Above the horizontal, a peak that flanks these notches changed in amplitude by 15 dB with changes in elevation. Removal of the tragus from the external ear disrupted the systematic movement of notch frequencies with elevation but did not disrupt changes in the peak's amplitude. Smaller changes in notch frequency also occurred with changes in azimuth, so monaural notch information alone cannot determine the position of sound sources away from the median plane. However, because bats routinely keep the head pointed at the target's azimuth, median-plane localization occurs with monaural cues delivered to the two ears. Corresponding changes with elevation occurred in the impulse-response, which consists of a series of 3-6 peaks spaced 10-20 microseconds apart. The time separation of two prominent impulse peaks systematically increased from 22-26 microseconds above the horizontal to about 36-40 microseconds below the horizontal, and removal of the tragus disrupted this time shift below the horizontal.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chiroptera / physiology*
  • Ear, External / anatomy & histology
  • Ear, External / physiology*
  • Echolocation / physiology*
  • Sound Localization
  • Time Factors