Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New research shows bats have complex skills to deal with ’clutter’

07.03.2006


A little clutter on the way to the refrigerator might mean taking a few extra seconds to navigate your way to a late night snack. For a bat flying around in the dark searching for a meal of insects, the "clutter" of things like leaves and trees could mean missing out on a tasty morsel of dinner altogether.


Echolocating bats adjust their vocalizations to catch insects against a changing environmental background. (Photo: Steven Dear)



A bat finds its way around with sound rather than sight. Using a sensory process called echolocation, the bat emits ultrasonic pulses that hit objects like leaves, trees, and insects, and bounce back to the bat to tell it what’s in the vicinity. When an echo returns from "clutter" at the same time a sound bounces back from an insect, the bat has a real challenge figuring out where the bug is.

In an article published in the open access journal PLoS Biology, University of Maryland psychology professor Cynthia Moss reports on new research that shows bats have methods for echolocating food in "clutter" that may be more complex than scientists have thought.


In its hunt for prey, a bat flies around at high speeds, emitting pulses of varying pitches and speeds. Using an array of high-speed infrared cameras and strategically placed microphones in the "Batlab," Moss’s team was able to match slowed video and audio recordings of the bat’s echolocation activity and corresponding movement as it pursued an insect tethered to a string. The insect could be out in the open, or nestled in among leaves.

"We have found that bats adjust the timing of their sounds when they encounter clutter, and they seem to ’strobe’ the world with sound," says Moss. As the bat gets closer to what could be an insect, it sends out an array of quick repetitive pulses, called sonar strobe groups. Finally, when it has locked onto the bug, right before scooping it up, the bat shoots a rapid fire series of sounds called the final buzz.

"In each case we found that the bats spent more time strobing when the insect was positioned near a plant, a strong indication that they used sonar strobe groups to try to distinguish the insect from the background clutter," Moss says. "They also varied the intervals between pulses in the strobe group, depending on the distance between the prey and clutter."

"Most importantly," says Moss, "the results of this study clearly show that bats control the timing of their calls to directly influence the patterns of echoes used for perception." This work nicely highlights a growing body of evidence from a variety of species, including humans, for the necessity of active participation in sensing the world.

Paul Ocampo | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.plos.org
http://www.plosbiology.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>