Royal Society Publishing

Echolocation Calls of Bats are Influenced by Maternal Effects and Change over a Lifetime

Gareth Jones, Roger D. Ransome


The greater horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, is a model species in echolocation studies, and emits calls containing long constant-frequency (CF) components. The bats have auditory systems tuned sharply to frequencies close to the resting CF (RF) values. Call frequency and neural processing are both flexible within individual bats which use this mode of echolocation. The simple structure of the calls makes them ideal for sonagraphic analysis. Here, in a large-scale and long-term analysis of changes in the vocalizations of bats we show that: (i) the calls of R. ferrumequinum aged 1-28 years vary seasonally and over a lifetime in a predictable manner; and (ii) an infant's RF is at least partly determined by the RF of its mother. We consider the relative importance of genetic and learning factors upon the correlation between RFS of mothers and offspring.

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