Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bats discover surround sound

Date:
October 17, 2013
Source:
North Dakota State University
Summary:
A new study by researchers shows that the furled leaves of Heliconia and Calathea plants where Spix’s disc-winged bats make their home actually help to amplify and transmit the social calls of the bats.

When bats are separated from their social group, they call to each other, producing what are known as inquiry and response calls. The leaves act like a megaphone, amplifying the incoming and outgoing calls, which likely helps the animals keep better track of group members.
Credit: North Dakota State University

While homeowners may appreciate a decked-out media room and surround sound in their abodes, one animal may be using a natural amplifier to help it communicate from its roosting home. A new study by researchers at North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND USA and the Universidad de Costa Rica shows that the furled leaves of Heliconia and Calathea plants where Spix's disc-winged bats make their home actually help to amplify and transmit the social calls of the bats. The findings of Dr. Erin Gillam of NDSU and Dr. Gloriana Chaverri appear in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The disc-winged bats (Thyroptera Tricolor) use the lush leaves as their temporary homes to roost. The leaves naturally curl into a horn-like shape, making a safe place for the bats to live. When bats are separated from their social group, they call to each other, producing what are known as inquiry and response calls. The leaves act like a megaphone, amplifying the incoming and outgoing calls, which likely helps the animals keep better track of group members.

"Our study provides the first evidence of the potential role that a roost can play in facilitating acoustic communication in bats," said Gillam. "Essentially, we are trying to understand if bats potentially take advantage of the places they live to maximize the likelihood that their calls get to the desired receiver. Our study suggests that the structure of the leaf roosts used by these bats may help with this process."

Cliquish bats use leaves as hearing aids

The disc-winged bats move to a new house daily to avoid predators, as the leaves of their plant homes unfurl. The bats communicate to keep track of each other and keep their constantly mobile neighborhoods intact. Researchers found that when the bats call to each other, the curled leaves act as horns or megaphones to increase the sound by one to two decibels. For bats looking for members of their groups that had already found a new leaf home, the leaves amplified their calls by up to 10 decibels.

Native to Central America, the tiny bats weigh about four grams each. While the leaves appear to help the disc-winged bats communicate, the leaves don't necessarily provide high-fidelity sound. Study results show that the megaphone-like leaves can also distort the sound, but the effect on the bats is unclear, according to Chaverri and Gillam.

What'd you say?

In a previous study, it had been shown that bats within the leaf cannot identify bats flying outside of the group based on their inquiry calls; the distortion of these calls by the shape of the leaf could potentially explain why bats have trouble in making this distinction. But when it came to the bats' unique response calls, the flying bats could determine enough information to identify whether it came from a member of their group.

Sound research

"This type of research helps us better understand the evolution of communication systems, which play key roles in many behaviors," explained Gillam. "For example, finding a mate generally involves males attracting females through a combination of visual, acoustic, and/or olfactory signals. This type of research helps us understand how natural selection has shaped these systems to their ecological and behavioral environments over evolutionary time."

Gillam and Chaverri are planning additional research. They plan to investigate whether the bats choose a prime piece of real estate leaf to roost because it provides maximum sound, or if they adapt their sounds to the shape of the leaf they've selected -- maybe akin to the way humans choose the perfect place to live, versus a fixer upper they learn to live with.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Dakota State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. G. Chaverri, E. H. Gillam. Sound amplification by means of a horn-like roosting structure in Spix's disc-winged bat. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2013; 280 (1772): 20132362 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2362

Cite This Page:

North Dakota State University. "Bats discover surround sound." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131017144416.htm>.
North Dakota State University. (2013, October 17). Bats discover surround sound. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131017144416.htm
North Dakota State University. "Bats discover surround sound." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131017144416.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins