Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 217–223

Behavioral and ecological aspects of gleaning by a desert insectivorous bat Antrozous pallidus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae)

  • G. P. Bell


  1. 1.

    The feeding behavior of Antrozous pallidus was studied in the field. To determine the sensory basis of prey location, and patterns of prey selection, bats were presented with live, wing-clipped moths, the sounds of fluttering moths, and the mating calls of crickets. Diet was determined through analysis of culled parts and feces collected at night roosts.

  2. 2.

    Flying bats located and captured prey which were on the ground. Echolocation calls were produced while searching for prey, but never during approach or attack, and I never saw A. pallidus capture flying prey.

  3. 3.

    In this study A. pallidus fed primarily on medium-sized to large moths, but other prey included orthopterans, beetles, neuropterans and chilopods, and, in one case, a pocket mouse (Perognathus flavus). A range of prey sizes was taken, but most prey (44%) were medium to large (≧20 mm body length). In prey selection experiments A. pallidus captured mediumsized prey in the least time; larger prey required greater handling time and smaller prey took longer to locate. While this species appears to be foraging optimally, maximizing energy intake by taking larger prey, such prey selection is most likely the result of prey conspicuousness.

  4. 4.

    Prey were located by the rustling sounds they produced on the ground. A. pallidus responded to the sounds of concealed prey, and to the tape recorded sounds of prey, and ignored dead or stationary prey. Bats did not respond to otherwise attractive sounds produced in heavy cover, and did not investigate the calls of crickets. All orthopterans observed in this study called from concealed places, usually from within heavy, thorny cover.

  5. 5.

    I conclude that A. pallidus use echolocation, and perhaps vision, to assess habitat and avoid obstacles, but locate prey by listening to their sounds. Echolocation is not used during prey capture, perhaps to avoid warning tympanate prey of their approach. These bats are able to discriminate between sounds which probably indicate food (i.e. rustlings in open areas) from sounds which offer no reward (orthopteran mating calls).



Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barbour RW, Davis WH (1969) Bats of America. University of Kentucky Press, LexingtonGoogle Scholar
  2. Barclay RMR, Fenton MB, Tuttle MD, Ryan MJ (1981) Echolocation calls produced by Trachops cirrhosus (Chiroptera: Phyllostomatidae) while hunting frogs. Can J Zool 59:750–753Google Scholar
  3. Bauerova Z (1978) Contribution to the trophic ecology of Myotis myotis. Folia Zool 27:305–316Google Scholar
  4. Bell GP (1980) Habitat use and response to patches of prey by desert insectivorous bats. Can J Zool 58:1876–1883Google Scholar
  5. Belwood JJ (1981) Katydid-eating bats: Their probable impact on calling Orthoptera. Paper presented at the 12th North Am Symp Bat Res, Ithaca, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Belwood JJ, Fenton MB (1976) Variation in the diet of Myotis lucifugus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae). Can J Zool 54:1674–1678Google Scholar
  7. Black HL (1974) A north temperate bat community: Structure and prey populations. J Mammal 55:138–157Google Scholar
  8. Bradbury JW, Nottebohm F (1969) The use of vision by the little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus, under controlled conditions. Anim Behav 17:480–485Google Scholar
  9. Brown PE, Grinnell AD, Harrison JB (1978) The development of hearing in the pallid bat, Antrozous pallidus. J Comp Physiol 126:169–182Google Scholar
  10. Buchler ER, Childs SB (1981) Orientation to distant sounds by foraging big brown bats, (Eptesicus fuscus). Anim Behav 29:428–432Google Scholar
  11. Burt WH (1934) Mammals of southern Nevada. Trans San Diego Soc Natl Hist 7:375–427Google Scholar
  12. Chase J (1981) Visually guided escape responses of microchiropteran bats. Anim Behav 29:708–713Google Scholar
  13. Chase J, Suthers RS (1969) Visual obstacle avoidance by echolocating bats. Anim Behav 17:201–207Google Scholar
  14. Davis R (1968) Wing defects in a population of pallid bats. Am Midl Nat 79:388–395Google Scholar
  15. Dorsett DA (1962) Preparation for flight by hawk moths. J Exp Biol 39:579–588Google Scholar
  16. Fenton MB (1980) Adaptiveness and ecology of echolocation in terrestrial (aerial) systems. In: Busnel R-G, Fish JF (eds) Animal sonar systems. NATO Advanced Study Institutes, ser A, vol 28. Plenum Press, New York, pp 427–448Google Scholar
  17. Fenton MB, Bell GP (1979) Echolocation and feeding behaviour in four species of Myotis (Chiroptera). Can J Zool 57:1271–1277Google Scholar
  18. Fenton MB, Fullard JH (1979) The influence of moth hearing on bat echolocation strategies. J Comp Physiol 132:77–86Google Scholar
  19. Fenton MB, Morris GK (1979) Opportunistic feeding by desert bats (Myotis spp.). Can J Zool 54:526–530Google Scholar
  20. Fiedler J (1979) Prey catching with and without echolocation in the Indian false vampire (Megaderma lyra). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 6:155–160Google Scholar
  21. Findley JS (1976) The structure of bat communities. Am Nat 110:129–139Google Scholar
  22. Gaudet C (1981) Behavioural flexibility in three species of vespertilionid bats. Paper presented at the 12th North Am Symp Bat Res, Ithaca, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. Griffin DR (1958) Listening in the dark. Yale Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  24. Grinnell HW (1918) A synopsis of the bats of California. Univ Calif Publ Zool 17:223–404Google Scholar
  25. Handley CO Jr (1959) A revision of American bats of the genera Euderma and Plecotus. Proc Natl Mus 110:95–246Google Scholar
  26. Hatt RT (1923) Food habits of the Pacific pallid bat. J Mammal 4:260–261Google Scholar
  27. Hayward B, Davis R (1964) Flight speeds in western bats. J Mammal 45:236–241Google Scholar
  28. Heinrich B, Bartholomev GA (1971) An analysis of pre-flight warm-up in the sphinx moth, Manduca sexta. J Exp Biol 55:223–239Google Scholar
  29. Henson OW Jr (1970) The ear and audition. In: Wimsatt W (ed) Biology of bats, chap 4, vol II. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. Howell DJ (1980) Adaptive variation in diets of desert bats has implications for evolution of feeding strategies. J Mammal 67:730–733Google Scholar
  31. Huey LM (1936) Desert pallid bats caught in mouse traps. J Mammal 17:285–286Google Scholar
  32. Kolb A (1961) Sinnesleistungen einheimischer Fledermäuse bei der Nahrungssuche und Nahrungsauswahl auf dem Boden und in der Luft. Z Vergl Physiol 44:550–564Google Scholar
  33. Leonard ML (1981) Habitat use, foraging behaviour and echolocation by the spotted bat, Euderma maculatum, in south-central British Columbia. Paper presented at the 12th North Am Symp Bat Res, Ithaca, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. Moir WH (1979) Soil-vegetation patterns in the central Peloncillo Mountains, New Mexico. Am Midl Nat 102:317–331Google Scholar
  35. Nelson EW (1918) Smaller mammals of North America. Nat Geogr Mag 33:371–493Google Scholar
  36. Orr RT (1954) Natural history of the pallid bat, Antrozous pallidus (LeConte). Proc Calif Acad Sci 28:165–246Google Scholar
  37. Pyke GH, Pulliam HR, Charnov EL (1977) Optimal foraging: A selective review of theory and tests. Q Rev Biol 52:137–154Google Scholar
  38. Ryan MJ, Tuttle MD, Barclay RMR (1981) The behavioral response of a frog-eating bat, Trachops cirrhosus, to low frequency sounds. Paper presented at the 12th North Am Symp Bat Res, Ithaca, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  39. Roeder KD, Treat AE, Vandeberg J (1968) Auditory sense in certain sphingid moths. Science 159:331–333Google Scholar
  40. Schoener TW (1971) Theory of feeding strategies. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 2:364–404Google Scholar
  41. Simmons JA, Stein RA (1980) Acoustic imaging in bat sonar: Echolocation signals and the evolution of echolocation. J Comp Physiol 135:61–84Google Scholar
  42. Simmons JA, Lavender WA, Lavender BA, Doroshow CA, Kiefer SW, Livingston R, Scallet AC, Crowley DE (1974) Target structure and echo spectral discrimination by echolocating bats. Science 186:1130–1132Google Scholar
  43. Simmons JA, Fenton MB, Ferguson WR, Jutting M, Palin J (1979a) Apparatus for research on animal ultrasonic signals. Life Sci Misc Publ Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, pp 31Google Scholar
  44. Simmons JA, Fenton MB, O'Farrell MJ (1979b) Echolocation and the pursuit of prey by bats. Science 203:16–21Google Scholar
  45. Suthers RA, Braford MR (1980) Visual sysems and the evolutionary relationships of the Chiroptera. Proc 5th Int Bat Res Conf Texas Tech Press, Lubbock, pp 331–346Google Scholar
  46. Tuttle MD, Ryan MJ (1981) Bat predation and the evolution of frog vocalizations in the neotropics. Science 214:677–678Google Scholar
  47. Vaughan TA (1959) Functional morphology of three bats: Eumops, Myotis, Macrotus. Univ Kansas Publ Mus Nat Hist 12:1–153Google Scholar
  48. Vaughan TA (1976) Nocturnal behavior of the African false vampire bat (Cardioderma cor). J Mammal 57:227–248Google Scholar
  49. Vaughan TA (1980) Opportunistic feeding by two species of Myotis. J Mammal 61:118–119Google Scholar
  50. Werner TK (1981) Responses of nonflying moths to ultrasound: The threat of gleaning bats. Can J Zool 59:525–529Google Scholar
  51. Wilson DE (1971) Food habits of Micronycteris hirsuta (Chiroptera: Phyllostomatidae). Mammalia 35:107–110Google Scholar
  52. Wilson DE (1973) Bat faunas: A trophic comparison. Syst Zool 22:14–29Google Scholar
  53. Woodsworth GC, Bell GP, Fenton MB (1981) Observations of the echolocation, feeding behaviour, and habitat use of Euderma maculatum (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) in south-central British Columbia. Can J Zool 59:1099–1102Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. P. Bell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations