Fine-tuned echolocation and capture-flight of Myotis capaccinii when facing different-sized insect and fish prey

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Formerly thought to be a strictly insectivorous trawling bat, recent studies have shown that Myotis capaccinii also preys on fish. To determine whether differences exist in bat flight behaviour, prey handling and echolocation characteristics when catching fish and insects of different size, we conducted a field experiment focused on the last stage of prey capture. We used synchronized video and ultrasound recordings to measure several flight and dip features as well as echolocation characteristics, focusing on terminal buzz phase I, characterized by a call rate exceeding 100 Hz, and buzz phase II, characterized by a drop in the fundamental well below 20 kHz and a repetition rate exceeding 150 Hz. When capturing insects, bats used both parts of the terminal phase to the same extent, and performed short and superficial drags on the water surface. In contrast, when preying on fish, buzz I was longer and buzz II shorter, and the bats made longer and deeper dips. These variations suggest that lengthening buzz I and shortening buzz II when fishing is beneficial, probably because buzz I gives better discrimination ability and the broader sonar beam provided by buzz II is useless when no evasive flight of the prey is expected. Additionally, bats continued emitting calls beyond the theoretical signal-overlap zone, suggesting that they might obtain information even when they have surpassed that threshold, at least initially. This study shows that M. capaccinii can regulate the temporal components of its feeding buzzes and modify prey capture technique according to the target.

TidsskriftJournal of Experimental Biology
Udgave nummer18
Sider (fra-til)3318-3325
Antal sider8
StatusUdgivet - 2014

ID: 225602296