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Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 199, Issue 4, pp 325–333 | Cite as

Brevity is prevalent in bat short-range communication

  • Bo Luo
  • Tinglei Jiang
  • Ying Liu
  • Jing Wang
  • Aiqing Lin
  • Xuewen Wei
  • Jiang Feng
Short Communication

Abstract

Animal communication follows many coding schemes. Less is known about the coding strategy for signal length and rates of use in animal vocal communication. A generalized brevity (negative relation between signal length and frequency of use) is innovatively explored but remains controversial in animal vocal communication. We tested brevity for short-range social and distress sounds from four echolocating bats: adult black-bearded tomb bat Taphozous melanopogon, Mexican free-tailed bat Tadarida brasiliensis, adult greater horseshoe bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, and adult least horseshoe bat Rhinolophus pusillus. There was a negative association between duration and number of social but not distress calls emitted. The most frequently emitted social calls were brief, while most distress calls were long. Brevity or lengthiness was consistently selected in vocal communications for each species. Echolocating bats seem to have convergent coding strategy for communication calls. The results provide the evidence of efficient coding in bat social vocalizations, and lay the basis of future researches on the convergence for neural control on bats’ communication calls.

Keywords

Brevity Bat Social communication Distress call Short-range 

Abbreviations

LDC

Low-duty cycle

HDC

High-duty cycle

AFM

Arched frequency modulation

dRFM

Downward ripple frequency modulation

fRFM

Fixed ripple frequency modulation

bDFM

Bent downward frequency modulation

DFM

Downward frequency modulation

QHFM

Quasi humped frequency modulation

NB

Noise burst

dAFM

Double arched frequency modulation

SFM

Sinusoidal frequency modulation

Notes

Acknowledgments

The experimental procedures were approved by the department of wildlife administration in Lai bin (Guangxi, P. R. China) and Ping tan (Fujian, P. R. China). We are grateful to Prof. Shuangwei Wang and Dr Guanjun Lu for their assistance in field experiments. We acknowledge M. Brock Fenton, Gerald G. Carter, and two anonymous reviewers for valuable advices and comments on the manuscript. The research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31030011, 30900166, 31100280) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central University (Grant No. 10SSXT001).

Supplementary material

359_2013_793_MOESM1_ESM.doc (160 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 159 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jinlin Key Laboratory of Animal Resource Conservation and UtilizationNortheast Normal UniversityChangchunChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory for Wetland Ecology and Vegetation Restoration of National Environmental ProtectionNortheast Normal UniversityChangchunChina

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