Bat shifts to echolocation when noise masks mating calls of its prey

Bat shifts to echolocation when noise masks mating calls of its prey

Scientists recently revealed that like a number of predators, bat mainly uses its hearing for prey detection, but amid the hustle and bustle of today’s world, and noise created by humans, they are trying to find out how bats and other animals could find the next meal.

A latest study suggested that when the mating calls of the bat's prey, túngara frogs fade away in the human-generated noise, the bat start relying on another sensory mode—echolocation.

The way of sensing objects and movement through scanning the surrounding areas using high frequency sounds and analyzing the reflections is known as echolocation. By analyzing the animals’ skills or inability to shift sensory modes, scientists may get some idea about how threatened or endangered species can be protected.

The work has been published in the journal Science this week. The study co-author Mike Ryan, a professor of integrative biology at The University of Texas at Austin said that bats engage into something quite like what humans do while at a noisy party. In a noisy party, we shift out entire attention from conversations to one speaker and tune out all other kinds of noises.

Ryan said, “If there's just one person talking and it's quiet, all we have to do is listen with our ears. But if there are more and more people talking, we have to be looking at them to figure out what each person is saying”. Ryan added that thus we use our eyes, another sensory channel to determine what’s going around.

However, bats make a shift from paying attention to one type of sound, low frequency mating call made by their prey, to the high frequency sounds released by the bat to locate and hunt using echolocation.

It is sad that when frogs generate mating calls, they in fact send two signals, one is meant to lure females; and their vocal sacs’ movement which inflate like a balloon in no time.


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