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New article in Naturwissenschaften

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Subject: New article in Naturwissenschaften
From: "Sonja Amoser" <>
Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2007 11:49:54 +0200
Antonio Guillén-Servent and Carlos Ibáñez (2007): Unusual echolocation behavior 
in a small molossid bat, Molossops temminckii, that forages near background 
clutter. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 61, 1599–1613.

Abstract: When searching for flying insects, Molossops temminckii uses unusual 
echolocation calls characterized by upward modulation of frequency vs time 
(UFM). Call frequency increases asymptotically in the relatively long (∼8 ms) 
pulses from a starting frequency of ∼40 kHz to a long narrowband tail at ∼50 
kHz. When approaching a prey, the bat progressively increases the duration of 
calls and intersperses in the sequence broadband downwardly frequency-modulated 
signals with a terminal frequency of about 53 kHz, which totally replaces the 
UFM signals at the end of the approach phase. The sequence progresses to a 
capture buzz resembling those from other molossid and vespertilionid bats. The 
M. temminckii wing morphology is characterized by an average aspect ratio and a 
high wing loading, suggesting that it is more maneuverable than the typical 
Molossidae but less than typical Vespertilionidae. M. temminckii regularly 
forages near clutter, where it needs to pay attention to the background and 
might face forward and backward masking of signals. We hypothesize that the UFM 
echolocation signals of M. temminckii represent an adaptation to foraging near 
background clutter in a not very maneuverable bat needing a broad attention 
window. The broadband component of the signal might serve for the perception of 
the background and the narrowband tail for detection and perhaps classification 
of prey. Bats may solve the signal masking problems by separating emission and 
echoes in the frequency domain. The echolocation behavior of M. temminckii may 
shed light on the evolution of the narrowband frequency analysis echolocation 
systems adopted by some bats foraging within clutter.

For reprints please contact Antonio Guillén-Servent (Email: 


Kind regards


University of Vienna, Dept. of Behavioural Biology
Sonja Amoser

Althanstrasse 14
1090 Vienna
tel: +43 (1) 4277 54467
fax: +43 (1) 4277 54506
mobile: +43 (664) 500 61 06

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