Scientific Reports (Sep 2021)

Silence and reduced echolocation during flight are associated with social behaviors in male hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus)

  • Aaron J. Corcoran,
  • Theodore J. Weller,
  • Annalise Hopkins,
  • Yossi Yovel

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 1
pp. 1 – 10


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Abstract Bats are renowned for their sophisticated echolocation. However, recent research has indicated that bats may be less reliant on echolocation than has long been assumed. To test the hypothesis that bats reduce their use of echolocation to avoid eavesdropping by conspecifics, we deployed miniature tags that recorded ultrasound and accelerations on 10 wild hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus) for one or two nights. This resulted in 997 10-s recordings. Bats switched between periods predominated by their typical high-intensity echolocation, or periods predominated by micro calls (unusually short, quiet calls), or no detectable calls (“silence”). Periods of high-intensity echolocation included high rates of feeding buzzes, whereas periods of micro calls and silence included high rates of social interactions with other bats. Bats switched back to high-intensity echolocation during actual social interactions. These data support the hypothesis that bats use reduced forms of echolocation and fly in silence to avoid eavesdropping from conspecifics, perhaps in the context of mating-related behavior. They also provide the strongest demonstration to date that bats fly for extended periods of time without the use of echolocation.