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Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 9;6:21500. doi: 10.1038/srep21500.

Sonar sound groups and increased terminal buzz duration reflect task complexity in hunting bats.

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Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, 5230 Odense, Denmark.
Department of Biology, University of Toronto Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6, Canada.


More difficult tasks are generally regarded as such because they demand greater attention. Echolocators provide rare insight into this relationship because biosonar signals can be monitored. Here we show that bats produce longer terminal buzzes and more sonar sound groups during their approach to prey under presumably more difficult conditions. Specifically, we found Daubenton's bats, Myotis daubentonii, produced longer buzzes when aerial-hawking versus water-trawling prey, but that bats taking revolving air- and water-borne prey produced more sonar sound groups than did the bats when taking stationary prey. Buzz duration and sonar sound groups have been suggested to be independent means by which bats attend to would-be targets and other objects of interest. We suggest that for attacking bats both should be considered as indicators of task difficulty and that the buzz is, essentially, an extended sonar sound group.

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