Bats identify other bats by sound

June 5th, 2009 - 4:37 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 5 (IANS) Bats can recognise one another by the nature of their sounds, says a new study carried out in Germany.
The study, conducted by the University of Tubingen, explains how bats use echolocation for more than just finding out where they are.

Researchers first tested the ability of four greater mouse-eared bats to distinguish between the echolocation calls of other bats.

After observing that the bats learned to discriminate the voices of other bats, they then programmed a computer model that reproduces the recognition behaviour of the bats.

Analysis of the model suggests that the spectral energy distribution in the signals contains individual-specific information that allows one bat to recognize another.

Animals must recognise each other in order to engage in social behaviour. Vocal communication signals are helpful for recognising individuals, especially in nocturnal organisms such as bats.

Little is known about how bats perform strenuous social tasks, such as remaining in a group when flying at high speeds in darkness, or avoiding interference between echolocation calls.

The finding that bats can recognise other bats within their own species based on their echolocation calls may therefore have some significant implications, said a Tubingen release.

These findings were published in the Friday edition of the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology.

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