Echolocation Ontogeny in Bats

  • Patricia E. Brown
  • Alan D. Grinnell
Part of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series book series (volume 28)


The ontogeny of echolocation in bats has received relatively little attention. Some bats do not hear at birth and are incapable of emitting the high frequency sounds necessary for accurate echolocation. No bat can fly at birth. Even bats born in a relatively advanced state, with the ability to hear and emit ultrasounds, still must learn to fly and correlate their outgoing pulses and returning echoes in a three-dimensional world before they are weaned. A study of echolocation ontogeny must integrate physiology, morphology, and behavior. The emission of short, high frequency sounds depends on the development of laryngeal musculature, but these ultrasonic pulses are of little value if the auditory system cannot process them or if the animal cannot maintain the high body temperatures necessary for ultrasonic hearing. All these systems develop simultaneously, and we have yet to assess the role of learning versus maturation in echolocation ontogeny. Our understanding of echolocation in adult bats can be enhanced through knowledge of how this complex sensory system develops.


High Frequency Sound Echolocation Pulse Isolation Call Sonar Pulse Initial Flight 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia E. Brown
    • 1
  • Alan D. Grinnell
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Biology and Physiology, and Ahmanson Laboratory of Neurobiology, Brain Research InstituteUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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