Feb 8, 2019

Optic and echo-acoustic flow interact in bats

The Journal of Experimental Biology
Kathrin KuglerUwe Firzlaff


Echolocating bats are known to fly and forage in complete darkness, using the echoes of their actively emitted calls to navigate and to detect prey. However, under dim light conditions many bats can also rely on vision. Many flying animals have been shown to navigate by optic flow information and, recently, bats were shown to exploit echo-acoustic flow to navigate through dark habitats. Here, we show for the bat Phyllostomus discolor that, in lighted habitats where self-motion-induced optic flow is strong, optic and echo-acoustic flow interact to guide navigation. Echo-acoustic flow showed a surprisingly strong effect compared with optic flow. We thus demonstrate multimodal interaction between two far-ranging spatial senses, vision and echolocation, available in this combination almost exclusively in bats and toothed whales. Our results highlight the importance of merging information from different sensory systems in a sensory-specialist animal to successfully navigate and hunt under difficult conditions.

  • References36
  • Citations1


  • References36
  • Citations1


Mentioned in this Paper

Spatial Memory
Blood Flow
Optic Flow
Specialty Physician
Patient Navigation
Desmodus rotundus

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