A whispering bat that screams: Bimodal switch of foraging guild from gleaning to aerial hawking in the desert long-eared bat

Talya D. Hackett, Carmi Korine, Marc W. Holderied*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Echolocating bats have historically been classified as either loud aerial hawkers or whispering gleaners. Some bat species can forage in multiple ways and others have demonstrated limited flexibility in the amplitude of their echolocation calls. The desert long-eared bat, Otonycteris hemprichii, has been said to be a passive gleaning whispering bat preying on terrestrial arthropods such as scorpions. Using an acoustic tracking system, we recorded individuals flying at foraging and drinking sites and compared their flight height, flight speed, call duration, pulse interval and source levels with those of gleaning individuals previously recorded using the same setup. We found differences in all variables with the strongest difference in source levels, where bats called at a mean of 119 dB peSPL (compared with 75 dB peSPL when gleaning). Bat faecal analysis indicated that their diet differed from previous studies and that prey species were capable of flight. We conclude that the bats switched from passive gleaning to capturing airborne insects (aerial hawking). Although whispering bats have been known to opportunistically catch insects on the wing, in the present study we show a full bimodal switch between foraging guilds with the respective changes in source level to those typical of a true aerial hawker.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3028-3032
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume217
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Acoustic tracking
  • Arthropod prey
  • Echolocation
  • Foraging guilds
  • Source level

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