The influence of moth hearing on bat echolocation strategies
- Cite this article as:
- Fenton, M.B. & Fullard, J.H. J. Comp. Physiol. (1979) 132: 77. doi:10.1007/BF00617734
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The ears of moths we tested in Canada and Côte d'Ivoire are most sensitive to sounds between 20 and 40 kHz, and much less sensitive to sound over 65 kHz. The insectivorous bats most commonly encountered in these (and other) locations use high intensity, frequency modulated echolocation calls with frequency components in the 20–40 kHz range, making them detectable by the most sensitive tympanate moths up to 40 m away. In Africa bats such as species in the Nycteridae, Megadermatidae, and some in the Hipposideridae, use low intensity calls with high frequency components, and these species are not detectable by moths at over 2 m. The hearing ability of moths may significantly influence the feeding efficiency of bats, and changes in the intensity and frequency components of bat echolocation calls can drastically reduce the range at which bats are detected, and thus the time available to the moths for evasive behaviour (Fig. 4). The use of low intensity, high frequency echolocation calls may constitute a bat counter-maneuver against insects tuned to bat calls.