Bats use echolocation to locate their prey

Bats use echolocation to locate their prey

Scientists have discovered the method being used by bats to catch their prey amid human created noises. While studying the preying habits of bats, researchers found that these mammals use echolocation to spot their prey when their sound is not audible due to other noises. The findings were published in Science journal’s issue of 16 September.

Use of echoes and sound waves to track an object in space is known as echolocation. To locate their prey bats release sound waves from their nose or mouth which produces echoes after hitting their prey. The fringed lips bats mostly prey upon tungara frogs whose mating calls help them to track their prey. Their mutation calls start bat’s flight from their perch.

“We show how animals can adapt to increased noise levels by making use of their other senses, which has important implications for other species that try to find prey, avoid predators or attract mates in human-impacted environments”, said Wouter Halfwerk, lecturer at Amsterdam’s VU University.

Halfwerk demonstrated an experiment to explain the capability of animals to keep adapting to the changes. All the previous studies on the effects of noise on animals mainly focused on whales and birds, whereas the new study examined the way animals interpret information from the environment.

For this study, researchers have used two robotic frogs, which mimicked the mating calls. It was found that despite the unwanted noises in the environment bats didn’t take any longer to track the frogs emitting signals. The study was funded by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the National Science Foundation.

The findings will encourage further studies of animal’s capability to adapt to anthropogenic noises with understanding the interaction between different species.


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