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J Comp Physiol A. 1996 Aug;179(2):245-54.

The orientation behaviour of the lesser spearnosed bat, Phyllostomus discolor (Chiroptera) in a model roost. Concurrence of visual, echoacoustical and endogenous spatial information.

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Zoologisches Institut, Universität Bonn, Germany.


The orientation behaviour of bats (Phyllostomus discolor, Phyllostomidae), flying inside an octagonal "roost-like" chamber (phi: 100 cm; h: 150 cm) was examined. It has been shown that the bats begin turning manoeuvres during flight by turning their head towards the direction they intend to proceed to. During early phases of the flights, cumulative navigation errors were evident, indicating that endogenous spatial information plays a major role in the orientation of the bats. During later phases of the flight this error is diminished again. So it can be concluded that the bats start to use exogenous spatial information for orientation while approaching the target. In order to investigate the relative importance of vision, echolocation and endogenous spatial information for approaching the roost, the landing lattices inside the test arena were changed for non-grid dummies. We found that: 1. combined visual and endogenous information are more important than echoacoustical cues, 2. the bats learned quickly to switch their orientation behaviour in order to get a better performance in avoiding the dummies, 3. the learning performance was influenced by the visual similarity of dummies and the real landing lattice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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