Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 192, Issue 5, pp 535–550 | Cite as

Vocal communication in adult greater horseshoe bats, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum

  • Jie Ma
  • Kohta Kobayasi
  • Shuyi Zhang
  • Walter Metzner
Original Paper

Abstract

Whereas echolocation in horseshoe bats is well studied, virtually nothing is known about characteristics and function of their communication calls. Therefore, the communication calls produced by a group of captive adult greater horseshoe bats were recorded during various social interactions in a free-flight facility. Analysis revealed that this species exhibited an amazingly rich repertoire of vocalizations varying in numerous spectro-temporal aspects. Calls were classified into 17 syllable types (ten simple syllables and seven composites). Syllables were combined into six types of simple phrases and four combination phrases. The majority of syllables had durations of more than 100 ms with multiple harmonics and fundamental frequencies usually above 20 kHz, although some of them were also audible to humans. Preliminary behavioral observations indicated that many calls were emitted during direct interaction with and in response to social calls from conspecifics without requiring physical contact. Some echolocation-like vocalizations also appeared to clearly serve a communication role. These results not only shed light upon a so far widely neglected aspect of horseshoe bat vocalizations, but also provide the basis for future studies on the neural control of the production of communicative vocalizations in contrast to the production of echolocation pulse sequences.

Keywords

Vocalization Social calls Echolocation Song Chiroptera 

Abbreviations

AFM

Arched frequency modulated

BNBl

Long noise burst

BNBs

Short noise burst

CF

Constant frequency

CCF

Complex constant frequency

DFM

Downward frequency modulated

FM

Frequency modulated

LCF

Long constant frequency

NB

Noise burst

RFM

Rippled frequency modulated

SCF

Short constant frequency

SFM

Sinusoidal frequency modulated

TCF

True constant frequency (echolocation pulse)

UFM

Upward frequency modulated

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by grants from NIH to WM (DC005400) and the National Science Foundation of China to SZ (30025007). We are particularly grateful to the Chinese Forestry Department for issuing the export permits and to Bing Liang, Jinshuo Zhang, and Zhanhui Tang for help with collecting the bats in China.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jie Ma
    • 1
  • Kohta Kobayasi
    • 1
  • Shuyi Zhang
    • 2
  • Walter Metzner
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Physiological ScienceUCLA Los AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Institute of ZoologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Brain Research InstituteUCLALos AngelesUSA

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